We went to bed thinking Jarome Iginla was going to be a Bruin. Nearly every single rumor had the 17-year vet heading to Boston, and when Iginla was a healthy scratch for Calgary's late-night game, it seemed a fait accompli. The sun rises to find Iginla in black and gold, but without the Bruins' spoked B. He's a Penguin now, the third vet to join the Eastern Conference leaders this week, and it's Stanley Cup or bust for Pittsburgh.
By all accounts, Calgary GM Jay Feaster had a deal in place with the Bruins, and would have preferred that offer over Pittsburgh's. But Iginla, who has a full no-trade clause, wanted to go to Pittsburgh for his best (last?) shot at a championship. (Boston fans: not necessarily taking this so well. TSN's Aaron Ward, who reported that Iginla-to-Boston was done, is still getting abuse.)
A free agent this summer, the Flames captain leaves Calgary the franchise's record-holder in just about every scoring category, and far and away the most beloved player in team history. In exchange for two college prospects and a 2013 first-rounder (most likely a very late first-rounder), he'll be a short-term rental for Pittsburgh. One month guaranteed, but if everything goes as planned, he'll still be skating in late June.
Iginla is 35. Brenden Morrow is 34. Douglas Murray is 33. In just a few days, the Penguins got tougher, smarter, and added some legitimate firepower to a roster that's already on the Cup shortlist. No, Iginla's not a 90-point guy anymore, but he won't be asked to be. Ray Shero says Iginla's willing to slot in anywhere he's asked—how does skating on a Malkin-Neal second line sound? Since getting called up for the 1996 postseason, Iginla has never had a pair of centers like Pittsburgh's top two. Do recall that he notched the assist on Sidney Crosby's 2010 Olympic overtime winner.
So the Penguins, already the East favorites, get even more favored—and without mortgaging the future. Ray Shero is a ninja genius. Flames fans can move on from an era that peaked on either side of the last lockout. And if this is what it'll take for Iginla to finally raise a Cup, it's hard to begrudge him the move, though he'd better get used to being one of the bad guys.