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What Jarome Iginla Meant to a Calgary Kid

Jarome Iginla made me fall in love with the Flames at a young age

Lightning v Flames, Game 3 Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images

I’m sure by now that everyone has read numerous posts detailing Jarome Iginla’s amazing accomplishments at the NHL level. I wanted to go slightly in a different direction.

After dressing for a total of 1635 NHL regular season and playoff games, Jarome Iginla’s illustrious career has come to an end with today’s retirement ceremony.

In those games, he racked up 662 goals, and 706 assists for a total of 1368 points. However, as dominating as Iginla was on the ice for the better part of two decades, it was his impact off the ice that will resonate just as much for Calgarians well into the future.

Jarome Iginla and the 2004 Calgary Flames helped me fall in love with the game of hockey at the age of five. Of course the ending was heartbreaking, but Iginla cemented a spot in the heart of all Calgarians for all time with his valiant leadership throughout that run.

It wasn’t just that he was an elite level player during that run, it was that he embodied the fighting/underdog spirit that Flames fans held, and the whole team got behind it.

It was Iginla scoring clutch goals in Game 7 of Round 1 against Vancouver, or celebrating eliminating Detroit in Round 2 with Martin Gelinas, or his goals in Stanley Cup Final, or his fight with Vincent Lecavlier. Or quite simply, it was his shift in overtime of Game 5 against Tampa to give the Flames a 3-2 lead.

As much as Iginla dominated on the ice, it was his impact in the community that further grew the legacy he’d leave in the Calgary area. It was the time and money he spent growing the game within the city, and the amount of selflessness he displayed every step along the way.

For every single hockey team I played on after the 2004 run, there had to be a name draw for who got to wear #12 that season. Every single kid playing minor hockey in Calgary wanted to be just like Jarome. It was a dream to one day have the chance to wear the Flaming C and lace up next to Jarome.

What I’ll always remember about Iginla is that he was the epitome of what the sport of hockey aims to be. It was more than just dominance and skill on the ice, but pure love for the game, his teammates, the fans. It was how he consistently acted with dignity, class, and a passion for the game that was second-to-none in the NHL.

He was never a player who yearned for the spotlight, but the spotlight often found him. For example, in April 2008, Iginla scored 50 goals in a season for the second time in his career. It was a night where he could’ve basked in the spotlight, but it was also Trevor Linden’s last NHL game. After the game, with the Flames visiting Vancouver, he brought his teammates back out to shake the hand of a Canuck legend.

It earned Iginla a warm cheer from Canucks faithful, especially when he was named one of the stars of the game shortly after. Probably the first and last time Canucks fans have cheered for a Flame (with the exception of Iginla again in 2010).

I think it was that Flames fans could relate to Iginla that made him such a legend in Calgary, he was a guy who came in every day and worked his tail off to try to get the W. He could score a beautiful goal, but also beat the crap out of you if he needed to.

The Flames and the entire NHL were lucky to have in the league for over two decades, and now as he heads into retirement, we can do nothing but wish him the best, because he’s given us memories that will last generations.

Thank you Iggy.

Jarome Iginla Flames
Jarome Iginla
Minnesota Wild v Calgary Flames Photo by Mike Ridewood/Getty Images
Sharks v Flames Photo by Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images
Lightning v Flames, Game 3 Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images
Calgary Flames v Dallas Stars Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Minnesota Wild v Calgary Flames Photo by Mike Ridewood/Getty Images

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