Avalanche vs Flames Storyline: Iginla Returns to Calgary


“His presence on the ice is already having a big impact.”- Ryan O’Reilly about Iginla

Game previews are usually about five aspects of the game to watch for. Besides seeing if the Colorado Avalanche can make 500 hockey for the first time this season, there’s only one real storyline for tonight’s game — the return of the prodigal Iggy.

Jarome Iginla Trade

On March 27, 2013, then-Flames captain Jarome Iginla was held out against the lineup in a game against none other than the Colorado Avalanche. It was rumored that the Flames had finally pulled the trigger on trading Iginla to the Boston Bruins, one of only four teams Iginla had agreed to be traded to. (Colorado, languishing under coach Joe Sacco, was not on that list.) Instead, Iginla got sent to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Iginla was near the final year in his contract, and Calgary was in a fierce race with the Avalanche for bottom of the Western Conference. (The Avalanche won that race, as we all know.) Iginla, like greats before him, has made no secret of the fact that he wants to be on a contending team, even if that means leaving his longtime team.

Iginla showed tremendous grace in bidding farewell to the Flames (far more than Paul Stastny showed to the Avalanche, but that’s a story for another post.) He said at the time:

"“I’ve grown up here. I came here just at 18 and played my first game here in the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs — one of my favorite games I’ve ever played. Getting the chance to play here in Calgary against the Chicago Blackhawks and play on Theo Fleury’s line. Just to start it off that way, I never would’ve dreamt I’d get to play here so long. It’s a great hockey city, a great community, and such a great balance between a wonderful city and a great place to live.”"

Nonetheless, after 16 years, including nine as team captain, Iginla was going to be suiting up with a new team.

Iginla didn’t last long with the Penguins. Instead, he chose to sign a one-year contract with the Boston Bruins for the 2013-14 season.

Iginla Returns to Calgary for the First Time

Iginla returned to Calgary on December 10, 2013. Fans greeted him with a standing ovation before the game. Even though the Bruins won, the Calgary fans didn’t hold it against Iginla. He was even named the third star of the game.

When they announced Iginla’s name as the third star, he completed two laps to wild cheers from the crowd.

Iginla’s initial return to Calgary was a success.

Iggy as an Av

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Calgary Flames Legend With High Praise For Young Prospect
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  • Returning to your former Western Conference team as a current member of an Eastern Conference team is one matter. Returning as a Western Conference rival is another. The teams will meet each other three times this season, including twice in March when every point matters and games become contentious.

    Head coach Patrick Roy opined that returning to Calgary is likely to be “extra special” for Iginla. Indeed, Iginla himself said:

    "“It’ll always be special for me. A lot of good memories there, and I was very fortunate to live there for a long time. Going back there and playing there will always be special.”"

    Iginla added that the first time he returned, while still with the Bruins, was an emotional time for him and his family. He’s also glad that’s out of the way so he can focus on hockey — and winning with the Avs. In fact, it is, indeed, significant that they’re Western Conference rivals:

    "“If it’s in a different conference, it’s a little bit different, but right now they’re in a playoff spot and we’re not. So, it’s just business and wanting to beat them.”"

    And in beating them, the Avs have the chance to get to 500 hockey — so we return to that storyline as well.