When Jarome Iginla burst onto the NHL scene before the turn of the last century, he was hailed as the future of hockey. Never mind that his style was more reminiscent of the lunch-pail workhorses of the 1950s and 1960s. Indeed, the NHL’s first black goal-scoring champion got the job done the old-fashioned way, playing end-to-end hockey and taking crap from no one. As the centerpiece of Calgary’s Stanley Cup Finals team, Jarome was hailed as a savior. Yet as that same team declined, he shouldered the blame for its shortcomings. Now presented with a new beginning in Pittsburgh, Jarome enters the golden years of his career with another shot at the coveted silver. This is his story…

GROWING UP

Jarome Iginla was born on July 1 (Canada Day), 1977 in Edmonton, Alberta. (Click here for a complete listing of today's sports birthdays.) Located in the western third of Canada, roughly 300 miles north of the U.S. border, Edmonton boasts the world’s largest shopping mall and a unique hockey heritage. When Jarome was born, however, major-league hockey had yet to come to the city—the Oilers and Wayne Gretzky were still a couple of seasons away.

Nine years before Jarome’s birth, his mother, Susan Schuchard, moved with her family from Oregon. Her parents, Rick and Frances, headed north to fill a teacher shortage, fell in love with the area and decided to stay. They purchased a spacious home in the suburb of St. Albert, where they raised their eight children. In the mid ‘70s, Susan met a student from Nigeria named Adekunle Iginla. Canadians had a hard time pronouncing his name, so he had it legally changed to Elvis.

They married and had Jarome, then split up in 1979. Elvis remained in Edmonton, where he attended law school. Susan, a massage therapist, returned to St. Albert with their son, and the two lived in a condo near her parents’ house. Jarome says that his parents’ divorce caused him little stress or pain. They remained on good terms, and Elvis lived close enough so that Jarome could see him on a regular basis. It also helped that Jarome’s grandparents were so involved.

They adored their grandson and played an active role in his upbringing. Jarome’s grandfather was the one who introduced him to sports and encouraged him to become an athlete. Every year, Rick Schuchard took his grandson to a baseball tournament in Lacombe, a city north of Edmonton. Jarome always had a blast during the trip. When he was old enough, he got paid for shagging balls at the event, making 50 cents for every one he ran down.

Baseball was Jarome’s first love. A talented all-around athlete, he pitched, caught, and played a terrific shortstop. In Canada, however, baseball is a distant second to hockey. Many children are on skates as soon as they can walk. Jarome began fooling with the sport at age six. A year later his grandfather enrolled him in an indoor floor hockey program. By the age of eight, the youngster was in an organized league.

Jarome’s interest in hockey was spurred on by the success of the Edmonton Oilers. They were in the midst of an incredible run of four Stanley Cups, and boasted some of the NHL’s greatest players, including Gretzky, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey, Jari Kurri, and Grant Fuhr. All were perennial All-Stars, partly because Jarome and his friends would grab all the ballots they could find and vote again and again for their hometown heroes.

Jarome’s favorite player was Fuhr, the team’s goalie. He actually met him at a baseball tournament in Lacombe once. Jarome says he was drawn to Fuhr because of their shared African heritage, but adds that race never seemed much of an issue growing up in St. Albert. Mostly he just liked the Fuhr’s style. It was one off the two major reasons why Jarome played goalie for his first two years of organized hockey.

The other reason was that Jarome was far from a natural when it came to skating. While the other boys glided effortlessly across the ice, Jarome labored when he first started playing the sport. Had you asked his family to forecast his future at this point, hockey would not have entered the conversation. Singing, in fact, seemed a more likely vocation. Music was in Jarome’s blood; his grandmother was a music teacher, and his mom once held a job delivering singing telegrams. Jarome played the piano and recorder, and had a beautiful voice. For years he was picked to perform solos at a local music festival.

Jarome had other ideas. After switching from goalie to forward, he discovered he had a flair for putting the puck in the net, and soon decided that he wanted a career in pro hockey. In his first season as a wing, he led all Midget players in Alberta in scoring.

In the summer of 1987, Canadian furniture-store magnate Bill Comrie (whose sons, Paul and Mike, would one day play for the Oilers) assembled a team from the Edmonton area to compete in an event known as the Vancouver Super Series. When he saw 10-year-old Jarome, he recruited him immediately. Comrie’s club became a powerhouse, and eventually grew in stature to represent all of northern Alberta. Jarome played on the squad for five years (three as an Atom and two as a Pee Wee). Among his fondest memories is when NHL stars Bernie Nicholls and Jim Fox served as referees during a game at a tournament in California.


 

 

 

 

 


Grant Fuhr, Upper Deck

     
 

In 1993, Jarome turned 16. This is the age at which Canada’s best young players enter the world of junior hockey. He was selected to play for the Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League. The WHL, a hotbed of future NHL talent, provided some daunting challenges for Jarome. The WHL players were closer to being men than boys; this translated into a style of play that was faster and rougher and meaner than anything he had encountered in youth hockey. Jarome’s first year was one of adjustment.

During the 1993-94 campaign, he tallied just six goals and 17 assists. However, by season’s end, under the tutelage of coach Don Hay, Jarome had moved his game to a new level. In the Memorial Cup, the most prestigious junior hockey tournament in Canada, he played solid hockey and contributed to a remarkable championship run—just the second for the Blazers in their history.

As Jarome grew into his body and gained more confidence, he developed into one of the WHL’s top power forwards. He distinguished himself from other players not just by his advanced skills, but with his impeccable instincts. Jarome always seemed to be around the puck—in the corners, around the crease, on the open ice—and he knew how to use his size and strength to greatest advantage. He played tough, but he played clean. In his second year with the Blazers he netted 33 goals and added 38 assists. Jarome led the Blazers to a second straight Memorial Cup, and won the George Parsons Trophy as the tournament’s Most Sportsmanlike Player.

Jarome’s performance during the 1994-95 season put him on the NHL scouting radar. He still had room to grow and improve, yet he already fit the profile of a first-round draft choice. That summer, the Dallas Stars selected Jarome with 11th overall pick.

ON THE RISE

     
 

After signing with the Stars, 18-year-old Jarome returned to Kamloops for a third season. Just after the campaign started, he learned that he had been traded. Dallas had a nucleus of good young players, and management felt all the team needed to contend was a couple of talented veterans. On December 19, Jarome was packaged with journeyman Corey Millen and sent to the Calgary Flames in exchange for Joe Nieuwendyk, a four-time All-Star with a pair of 50-goal seasons on his resume.

The move would work out for both clubs, but initially it looked like a disaster. The Stars missed the playoffs entirely in 1996 (though they would win 46 games the following year), while Calgary fans were up in arms about the loss of a beloved team member. “Jarome Who?” screamed one local newspaper.

Jarome learned of the trade while in Boston for the World Junior Hockey Championships. Focused on the 10-team tournament, if he was rattled by the deal it didn’t show. In the semifinal against Russia, Jarome helped Team Canada gain a 4-3 win with a clutch shorthanded goal. In the final against Sweden, he set the tone early with a crushing body check on an enemy defenseman. Canada won 4-1 and Jarome, with 12 points, was named the tournament’s top forward.

Upon returning to Kamloops, Jarome justified Calgary’s confidence by playing dominant hockey. In 63 games he amassed 63 goals and 73 assists. He added 29 points in 16 games during the Memorial Cup competition, but the Blazers fell short of a third consecutive championship.

After the Memorial Cup, Jarome received the call every junior player dreams of. The Flames were in the playoffs and needed some scoring punch after losing Gary Roberts to an injury midway through the season. Jarome responded with a goal in his first game, a first-round tilt with the Chicago Blackhawks, and followed with an assist in his second. Despite the teenager’s contributions, Calgary lost the series in four straight.

Heading into his first NHL regular season, Jarome had established himself as a contender for the Calder Trophy. Despite playing well, it was not an easy year. Coach Pierre Page resigned unexpectedly prior to the campaign, and Calgary’s best player, Theo Fleury, suffered through a terrible season and surrendered his captaincy. Compounding these problems was the disappointing play of Czech forward Robert Reichel, who returned to the Flames after playing abroad for a year. Once a 40-goal scorer, he netted a meager 16 before being traded to the Islanders with a dozen games left in the season.

Jarome finished with 21 goals and 29 assists and was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie team. But Iginla, who earned the nickname “Iggy Pop,” was the lone bright spot for Calgary, which missed the playoffs for only the second time since the franchise transferred from Atlanta in 1979. No one knew it at the time, but the team’s sorry season would mark a steady period of decline for the franchise. This focused the spotlight more intensely on Jarome and the other young Flames.

It was a classic case of too much too soon. Jarome and the others pressed during the 1997-98 season, and failed to play consistently. In January he broke a bone in his right hand and missed three weeks. Jarome finished with just 13 goals, and did not light the lamp at all on the power-play. Calgary missed the playoffs again.

The numbers only hint at the nightmarish season Jarome endured. Coach Brian Sutter and his staff rode the 20-year-old mercilessly, criticizing him at every turn and challenging him to improve quickly. They told Jarome he was lazy, that he wasn’t tough enough—anything to accelerate his development. When the Fames fell short of qualifying for the postseason, much of the blame was heaped on Jarome.


Joe Nieuwendyk, 1992 Topps
     
 

Jarome showed tremendous maturity in his response to Calgary’s frustrating campaign and Sutter’s stern tactics. In the off-season he worked every day on his fitness. WhenJarome showed up for training camp in the fall of 1998, the Flames saw a more serious and better-conditioned player. They rewarded his efforts by placing him on Calgary’s top line with Theo Fleury and Jeff Shantz. The move also reflected a change in philosophy among Sutter and his assistants. Throughout the 1998-99 campaign, they encouraged their young star with positive reinforcement instead of breaking him down with harsh criticism.

Jarome responded with a solid season. By the end of January he had already surpassed his previous season’s goal total. He finished the year with 28 goals and 23 assists. However, the Flames were still a mess. The team’s best young players were now in their mid 20s, yet they were still committing rookie mistakes. Veterans Ken Wreggett and Phil Housley were brought in to provide some leadership, but their presence had little effect. For a third straight season, the Flames watched the playoffs on television.

Jarome spent the summer working to improve his speed. This, he knew, was the one glaring weakness in his game. He had spent so many years bulking up in the weight room that he had lost flexibility, and this in turn had affected his skating. To become faster, Jarome hired a personal trainer named Lou Edwards. A sprinting specialist who started a program called “Need for Speed,” Edwards worked with Jarome at a track in St. Albert. With each session he could sense the explosiveness returning to his stride.

Meanwhile, storm clouds were gathering in Calgary. Jarome was up for a new contract, but agent Don Meehan and Calgary GM Al Coates could not hammer out a deal. As the summer dragged on and training camp approached, the two sides were still kilometers apart. Jarome had been making $850,000 and felt he deserved a substantial raise. Meehan pointed to the fact that two former Flames, Fleury and Andrew Cassels, had left via free agency and signed for millions more than Calgary was offering. Coates held his ground, and Jarome had to sit out much of training camp. He hated to do it, but business was business. Finally, Jarome agreed to a three-year deal that would pay him double what he had been making. It was not a great contract, but it was good enough for the time being.

The contract squabble didn’t earn Jarome any new fans. In fact, when the season started, it seemed as if everyone expected him to be twice as good since he was making twice as much. When he got off to a slow start, the Calgary media jumped all over him. Jarome did not score a point in his first 11 games, and the Flames failed to win until their 20th game of the season. Old comparisons to Joe Nieuwendyk resurfaced, and some were calling him “Iggy Flop.”

Jarome ignored the criticism and eventually found his game. He was named NHL Player of the Month in February of 2000 after posting league-high totals of 10 goals and 21 points. During one spectacular streak he recorded a point in 16 straight games. The Flames, meanwhile, moved to within striking range of a playoff spot. “Iggy Flop” had now been replaced by “Iggy Top.”

When Jarome cooled off, however, so did the Flames. He still finished with 29 goals and 34 assists, but Calgary’s season was extinguished before they got a sniff of the playoffs. While Jarome was on vacation during the off-season, he learned that there had been a change at the top in Calgary. Out as head coach for 2000-01 was Sutter, and in was Don Hay, his old boss in Kamloops. Jarome respected Sutter, but was glad to see a change. It didn’t hurt that Hay favored a wide-open style that put a premium on goal-scoring. Jarome came to camp in good spirits and great shape, certain he could reach the 40-goal plateau. He opened the season on a tear, leading the Flames in goals and assists, and earning the respect of his teammates for his leadership.

Never a “rah-rah” guy, Jarome preferred to inspire his teammates by making big plays in big situations. There hadn’t been many big situations in Jarome’s four seasons in Calgary, but this year the team was winning more often and staying in games that had gotten away from them in the past. Jarome worked hard, night in and night out. When an injury forced team captain Steve Smith into retirement, the club voted a new set of leaders. Veteran Dave Lowry, acquired in the off-season, was named captain; Jarome and defenseman Jason Weimer were installed as assistants. It was the first time in his career at any level that Jarome wore a letter on his jersey. The honor meant a great deal to him.

As luck would have it, Jarome injured his knee a day later. He got right back on the ice and played hard the rest of the way, but he was never 100 percent again. The Flames fizzled once again, and faded from the playoff race for a fifth year in a row. Exasperated, Jarome took out his frustration on Brendan Morrow of the Stars. Never shy about mixing it up, Jarome put a little extra behind one of his punches and cracked the hamate bone in his left hand. His season ended early, with 31 goals and 40 assists.

Jarome had surgery to repair the damage, but was told to sit out two months. This prevented him from joining Team Canada at the World Championships in Germany. The squad could have used his help—Canada lost to the United States in the quarterfinals and left Europe without a medal.

MAKING HIS MARK

In September of 2001, Wayne Gretzky attempted to phone Jarome, who was now back at full strength. The Great One, Executive Director of Canada’s 2002 Olympic men’s hockey team, needed someone to replace Philadelphia Flyer Simon Gagne, who was nursing a sore shoulder. When the call came, Jarome had been out to dinner in Edmonton with his step-siblings (Elvis Iginla had remarried and started a new family); his fiancee, Kara Kirkland, took the message.


Jarome Iginla, 2002 Topps Heritage
     
 

Gretzky wants me? Jarome suspected it was a prank. Teammate Marc Savard, a known practical joker, was a prime suspect. But a call to former Edmonton great Kevin Lowe, who was GM of Team Canada, confirmed that it had indeed been Gretzky who called. The two spoke, and Gretzky explained the situation. The team had an intra-squad scrimmage in Calgary the next day—could he make it? Gretzky was not promising a spot on the Olympic team, but Iginla saw an opportunity to make a good impression.

Jarome jumped into his Porsche 911, and drove all night to arrive at the practice game on time. He skated on a line with former Flame Theo Fleury and Pierre Turgeon. Though nervous, Jarome impressed Gretzky, who said afterwards that the 24-year-old had a shot to earn a spot the squad.

Jarome’s experience with Team Canada heightened his enthusiasm and bolstered his confidence heading into the 2001-02 campaign. He was determined to raise his game and become an elite-level player, and also get Calgary to the playoffs. For the first time, Jarome had a decent supporting cast. Second-year GM Craig Button had begun an aggressive rebuilding plan. New to the team were goalie Roman Turek, enforcer Bob Boughner, centers Rob Niedermayer and Scott Nichol, and speedy left wing Dean McAmmond. Young defenseman Derek Morris was coming into his own, while veteran Craig Conroy—a defensive-minded forward obtained a year earlier from the Blues—looked to add a little offense to his game. The task of molding this squad into a contender fell to Greg Gilbert, who had replaced Bob Hay behind the bench at the end of the 2000-01 campaign.

A few weeks into the season it was clear that the Flames had turned the corner. They were legitimate challengers for a division title thanks to Gilbert’s intelligent, tight-checking style, which sought to limit mistakes in the defensive zone and create scoring opportunities at the other end of the rink. Jarome’s linemates, Conroy and McAmmond, were playing great. Morris, meanwhile, was quickly developing into one of the top backliners in the league, and Turek was a monster in goal.

Spearheading the revitalized Flames was Jarome. An early-season offensive flurry vaulted him to the top of the NHL’s scoring chart, and there he stayed all year long. As the season progressed, the media picked up on this story. Fuhr had been hockey’s first black superstar, but he spent games hidden behind a mask. Jarome, who would become the league’s first black scoring champion, was “out there” for all to see. The NHL, always interested in reaching out to minority fans and players, encouraged the press to heap attention on Jarome.

This led to some awkward moments. Reporters trying to play up the race angle asked some pretty dopey questions, such as, “What does it feel like to be black and the top scorer in the NHL?” Iginla’s standard response was that being a role to African-American children was great, but he hoped to serve as an example for all kids. Jarome was gracious and accommodating, even when he discovered that his name had been left off the NHL’s official All-Star ballot. This slight was corrected in February when he was chosen as a reserve for the North American All-Stars.


Jarome Iginla, 2002 Blaze Magazine
     
 

Being the league’s leading scorer did come with some advantages. In January, he was informed that he had been added to the Canadian Olympic team. When Jarome left for Salt Lake City the following month, he had 35 goals—already a new career high. Of course, on Team Canada, that just made Jarome one of many sharpshooters. His Olympic teammates included Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic, Eric Lindros, Paul Kariya and Steve Yzerman, who had more than 2,000 goals between them. Indeed, coach Pat Quinn was more interested in Jarome’s muscle than his scoring touch; for Canada to win its first gold medal in more than two generations, the team would have to press the size advantage it held over other teams in the tournament.

Jarome played the first game on a line with Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan. The trio looked out of step, as did the rest of Team Canada, which was outhustled and outclassed in a 5-2 loss to Sweden. Looking to shake things up, Quinn moved Jarome to a line with Sakic and Simon Gagne, the man whose injury had first opened the door for him. Jarome was more comfortable and it showed. By the quarterfinals, against Finland, he was hitting with authority and skating with confidence.

Team Canada blew out Belarus 7-2 in the semis to advance to the gold medal game against the American team. This was the contest everyone anticipated. The U.S. took the lead on a goal by Tony Amonte, but Canada was clearly enjoying the best of the play. Late in the first period, with the score knotted 1-1, Jarome took a lovely cross-ice pass from Sakic and tucked the puck past goalie Mike Richter to give his team the lead.

After Team USA tied the score, Sakic beat Richter with the help of a screen set by Joe Nieuwendyk, the player for whom Jarome had been traded. Sixteen minutes into the final period, Jarome blasted a high drive that Richter could not handle. The puck squirted out of his glove and trickled into the net to give Team Canada some breathing room. With the American comeback attempt quelled, Sakic finished the scoring with a breakaway goal for a 5-2 win.

In the game that brought Canada its first gold medal in 50 years, Sakic was named first star, goalie Martin Brodeur second, and Jarome third. It was quite a moment for Iginla. Countless millions of hockey fans worldwide got their first prolonged look at him in this game, as did many Canadians. Roughly half the TVs in Canada were tuned to the gold medal game.


Pat Quinn, 1971 Topps Rookie
     
 

When the NHL season resumed, Jarome joined Sakic on the cover of The Hockey News as they showed off their gold medals. Jarome was also the subject of a feature article in Sports Illustrated. In his first game back, he notched his first career hat trick against the Rangers. In his next game he scored goal number 40.

A relative unknown outside western Canada weeks earlier, Jarome was now being touted as a potential MVP. He was also perfectly positioned to win the Art Ross (scoring) and Rocket Richard (goals) trophies. On April 7, Jarome netted a pair of goals against the Blackhawks—numbers 50 and 51 on the year. It had been a decade since a Calgary player last reached this milestone.

The lone disappointment in Jarome’s otherwise stellar season was the fact that Calgary once again fell out of playoff contention. A fast start held great promise for a return to the postseason, but after losing just two of their first 21 games the Flames proceeded to win just four of their next 20. From there, key injuries made the club a run-of-the-mill .500 team.

As a restricted free agent, Jarome faced some interesting choices in the summer of 2002. His combination of toughness and talent promised to bring a king’s ransom, while his ethnic background added some intriguing marketing twists. Ultimately, he decided to stay and finish what he started in Calgary—even though some say his skills (and likely cross-over appeal) are being wasted in the remoteness of western Canada. But the Flames had been loyal and supportive over the years, and he wanted to repay them by helping the franchise return to the top.

It wasn't to be in the '02-'03 season, as Calgary was again shut out of the playoffs. The team's biggest problems came in the attacking end, where the Flames struggled to put the puck in the net. Jarome led the team in scoring (35 goals, 33 assists), but only five other teammates registered double-digits in goals. Chris Drury, acquired from Colorado to add speed and offensive punch, was particularly disappointing.

Defensively, Calgary wasn't much better. The club surrendered the fourth-most goals in the Western Conference, often leaving Roman Turek to fend for himself in net. The veteran goalie actually thrived at times under the heavy workload, but it was hardly a recipe for success.

Things got so bad in Calgary that rumors circulated that Jarome was headed out of town. With the big-budget Rangers trying to make a playoff push and perennial Stanley Cup contenders like the Red Wings and Devils hoping to bolster themselves upfront, the Flames fielded plenty of offers for their talented winger. But the only substantive changes implemented by the team came in the front office. After the season, coach Sutter was named general manager, as Button was handed his walking papers.

Heading into the 2003-2004 season, not much was expected of the Flames. They had missed the playoffs for the past seven seasons, a streak that had every chance to continue.

Through the first two months of the campaign, Calgary was well on its way to another summer of tee-times. The team's record stood at 9-12, and to make matters worse, Jarome was struggling mightily. Indeed, he had just one goal through the first 21games.Disappointment soon turned into jubilation. Jarome picked up his game in December, and little-known goalie Mikka Kiprusoff began to make a name for himself. The Flames finished the month at a scorching 10-3-2.

Not surprisingly, Calgary came back down to earth, and found itself fighting for playoff positioning with 28 games remaining. Sutter called a team meeting, and outlined a strategy for the stretch run. The team responded, winning four games in each of the coach's four "seven-game series." The Flames wound up as the sixth seed in the Western Conference.

Jarome's leadership was key to the team's success. Despite his nightmarish start, he ended with 41 goals, which tied him for the league lead. Along the way, he garnered support as an MVP candidate.


Jarome Iginla & Joe Sakic,
2002 The Hockey News
     
 

The Flames faced a familiar opponent in their opening series, Northwest Division champion Vancouver. The physical Canucks kept Jarome in check through the first six games, limiting him to just one goal. But in the decider, he exploded with two goals in regulation, then assisted on Martin Gelinas’s game-winning—and series-winning—goal in overtime.

Waiting for the Flames in the second round was another division champion, the powerful Red Wings. Detroit also focused on silencing Jarome, so again he looked to set up his teammates. In Game Six, he found Craig Conroy late in the third period to seal a victory, and force another Game Seven. Several nights later, Jarome hooked up again with Gelinas, who put home his second overtime game-winner.

Calgary's road only got tougher in the Western Conference Finals, as the team squared off against the talented Sharks. Jarome had a huge series, netting four goals and assisting on another. In Game Five, he scored a short-handed goal in the second period, which added to an impressive 3-0 victory. The Flames proceeded to close out the series in Game Six.

In the Stanley Cup Finals, Calgary faced yet another division champion, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Jarome gave his team an instant lift in Game One with a game-winning short-handed goal. The two clubs alternated victories over the next four. In Game Six, with the Flames one win from the Cup on their home ice, the Lightning finally figured out a way to buck the back-and-forth trend of the series. They shut down Jarome completely.

Tampa Bay sent the series back to Florida, where both teams opened Game Seven looking tight. The Lightning pounded Jarome every opportunity they got, determined not to let him beat them. The plan worked, as Tampa Bay jumped to a two-goal lead, then held on for dear life in the waning minutes. Jarome created several good scoring chances late, but it wasn't to be for the Flames, who fell a single victory short of the Stanley Cup.

Jarome finished the '04 playoffs with great numbers, scoring a league-high 13 goals, tallying nine assists and finishing at a +13. Had Calgary won Game Seven over the Lightning, he would have been the easy choice for the Conn Smythe.

Jarome enjoyed a brief respite, and then joined Team Canada for the World Cup of Hockey. He formed Canada’s most prolific line with two of his heroes, Lemieux and Sakic. After a slow start in the tournament's preliminary games, Jarome broke out in the quarterfinals against Slovakia. Five minutes into the second period, he fired a shot byJan Lasak to put Canada up 2-0. Later he assisted a goal by Sakic before notching his second of the contest.

After gutting out a 4-3 overtime victory versus the Czech Republic in the semis, the Canadians faced Finland for the championship. Tied at 2-2 heading into the third period, Canada got the game-winner from an unlikely source, forward Shane Doan. The victory marked the third world title for Canada since 2002, a run that has established the country as the globe's pre-eminent power on the ice. Jarome has been a key factor. During the six games of the World Cup, he scored two goals, added an assist and finished at a +5.

A labor dispute wiped out the 2004-05, when Jarome was arguably at the height of his powers. Even so, he spent the lockout year following a training regimen designed to increase his speed and explosiveness. Still, it took a while to shake off the rust in 2005-06. Jarome finished the year with a mere 67 points, but no one was complaining, as Calgary finished atop the Northwest Division. The fun ended in the first round, however, as the Flames blew a three games to two lead to Anaheim. Jarome had five goals in the 7-game series.


Jarome Iginla, autographed photo
     
 

Jarome had a standout season in 2006–07, reaching a new career high with 55 assists. He also had 39 goals for a total of 94 points. A mid-season knee injury prevented him from reaching the 100-point plateau, and also kept him out of the All-Star Game. The Flames edged Colorado for the last playoff spot, but lost to the Red Wings in the opening round.

Jarome reached 50 goals for the second time in 2007–08 season, finishing with 50 on the nose plus 48 assists. That season he also broke the Flames’ record for games and goals. Theo Fleury had owned the record with 364 goals. The team rewarded him with a five-year contract extension. The Flalmes met the Sharks—the league’s hottest team—in the first round. Jarome starred in a Game One upset, and the Flames were minutes away from a two-game lead when the roof caved in. Calgary lost in seven. It was their third straight opening-round exit after making it to the final.

In 2008-09, Jarome eclipsed Fleury’s record of 830 points the following season. He made the All-Star team for the fifth time and netted his first All-Star goal during the 12–11 loss to the East squad. On the balance, however, it was a down year for Jarome. He scored only 35 goals and often lacked his usual fire. This was especially true in the playoffs, as he accounted four only four points in a six-game loss to the Blackhawks.

Over the summer, he rededicated himself to the game. But the results weren’t apparent in 2009–10. Jarome managed a meager 69 points, and Calgary failed to make the postseason for the first time in seven seasons. A bounce-back year saw him score 43 times in 2010-11, but once again the Flames watched the playoffs at home. Calgary missed the postseason a third straight time in 2011–12, and Jarome—now pushing 35—managed only 67 point.

The Flames were bad again in 2012–13, the final year of Jarome’s contract. As the trade deadline neared, he let it be known that he would approve a deal to a handful of teams, including the Bruins, who appeared to have the inside track. The Penguins swooped in and topped Boston’s offer with a first-round pick and a pair of prospects. Jarome played his first game in a Pittsburgh uniform on March 3h. He scored his first goal for the Penguins in a loss to the Sabres on April 2.

Jarome has found a new home where the Stanley Cup is a realistic goal every season. The truth is he would look good in just about any team's jersey, especially one in a major North American city where hockey fans can gain a greater appreciation for his skills and enterprising advertising execs can capitalize on his untapped star potential

JAROME THE PLAYER

Jarome is a classic NHL power forward. Early in his career he shied away from contact, but added aggressiveness to his game that helped him flourish. He creates room to operate by winning the little battles fans don’t often see. The result is several quality scoring opportunities every game, even when opponents try to isolate him.

Jarome has never been a lightning-fast skater, but that may be the lone weakness in his game. He has a hard, accurate shot that is as deadly in the third period as it is in the first. He can create for himself or for others, and is a solid passer. Most of all Jarome is a leader by example. As he moves into the twilight years of his career, he will likely become a dangerous and valued role player on contending teams.


Jarome Iginla, 2006 Upper Deck Insert
     

 

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