Colorado Avalanche: Is Jarome Iginla Pulling his Weight?

Dec 18, 2016; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Colorado Avalanche right wing Jarome Iginla (12) skates on the ice prior to the game against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 18, 2016; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Colorado Avalanche right wing Jarome Iginla (12) skates on the ice prior to the game against the Winnipeg Jets at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche haven’t entirely gotten what they paid for in Jarome Iginla. However, Iginla’s still a star player.

Colorado Avalanche right wing Jarome Iginla will one day be inducted to the Hall of Fame — that much is fact. However, most of his accomplishments occurred before he signed with the Avalanche, especially during his long tenure with the Calgary Flames. These days, Iginla is celebrating accomplishments such as 600 goals and 1,500 games in burgundy and blue, but the Avs saw little other benefit.

Iginla signed with Colorado in the summer of 2014 for three years. He was 37 at the time.

Cost of Iginla

The Colorado Avalanche signed Jarome Iginla right after losing center Paul Stastny in free agency. At the time, we all heralded the move. After all, Stastny was becoming a third-line center for us while Iginla was a future Hall of Famer.

The Avalanche signed Iginla to a three-year contract worth $16 million. That’s a cap hit of $5.3 million. The contract also carries a No Move clause, meaning Colorado can’t trade him without his consent. Technically it also means the Avalanche have to protect him in the expansion draft.

When Iginla first signed with Colorado, then-coach Patrick Roy offered him the alternate captaincy as a term of respect. One of the first things Jared Bednar did was strip that alternate captaincy away, though I don’t think it was out of disrespect.

Iginla’s Leadership

While on the topic of captaincy, let’s talk about leadership. Jarome Iginla is renowned as one of the great leaders in the NHL. He’s a man that leads by example — and grit and heart. Judging by his interviews, I daresay he’s a calming influence in the locker room, too.

Here’s Iginla talking to the press after the Colorado Avalanche lost to the Winnipeg Jets:

I don’t know what it is about Iginla. He’s not eloquent, but somehow you feel better after listening to him.

I thought he could have been the perfect mentor for young captain Gabriel Landeskog. On the face of things, they seem to be cut from the same cloth, especially since they’re both power forwards.

It seemed to work that way in Iginla’s first season with the team. Landeskog had one of his best leadership years — he hit, fought and scored right when it was most needed by the team.

Last year, though, wasn’t so great for either man leadership-wise. Landeskog took ill-timed penalties that even got him suspended twice. Both men seemed to fight at the wrong times.

Iginla admitted that, for his part, he hesitated to take a bigger leadership role last year because he was no longer “the player I once was.” Maybe that left Landeskog a little high and dry — or maybe Landy’s own self-proclaimed “wild ways” led him astray.

This year has been more of a mixed bag. Landeskog is fourth on the team with penalty minutes, though they haven’t been as costly.

Iginla took some ridiculous penalties that cost the team at the beginning of the season, though some were poor calls by the referees. That said, I thought the major penalty he took at the conclusion of his 1,500th game was not only fitting for the type of player he is, but it could have been a good locker room move:

Iginla was standing up for a teammate after a big hit in a game the opponent had already won by a humiliating margin.


More from Mile High Sticking

Part of what led to Jarome Iginla being a shoe-in for the Hockey Hall of Fame was his offensive production. Back in the day, 30-goal seasons were normal for him, and he even had a couple 50+ goal seasons.

For the Colorado Avalanche, though, he’s never scored more than 29 goals in a season — he got just 22 last year. He has four in 30 games this year, so it’s not looking good that he’ll hit 30.

I’ve got to think that offensive production wasn’t the only reason the Colorado Avalanche brought Iginla on board. After all, the team signed him on his 37th birthday. While 37 is the prime of your life in the real world, in hockey it’s the middle of veteran status. Colorado signed him for the intangibles he brings.

That said, $5.3 million is a lot, especially since he hasn’t always delivered on the intangibles as well. Now, Iginla has started making noises that he might be open to a trade to a contending team at deadline.

Whether Iginla leaves in March or April probably means little to the Colorado Avalanche in the long run. Even if they traded him now, it’s unlikely they’d get much in return except for cap relief. And there’s not a ton Colorado can do to go from dead-last in the NHL to playoff-bound even if they use that cap relief to make a blockbuster trade with a younger player.

Next: Hopes for the Avs

So, it’s hard to say that Iginla is or is not worth the trouble for the Colorado Avalanche. He’s not the main part of the problem, though he hasn’t been a main part of a solution either. Instead, let’s focus on the part the Avalanche will play in Iginla’s story. While it’s true that his achievements didn’t pile up while in Colorado, Iginla was wearing burgundy and blue at the culmination.

Jarome Iginla will always be remembered as a Calgary Flame. But the photos of some of his great accomplishments show he was once a Colorado Avalanche, too.