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BOSTON (CBS) — Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli did a commendable job explaining his side of the Jarome Iginla fiasco Thursday at TD Garden.
Transparency in this day and age of “undisclosed” injuries and “no comments” is always a welcome breath of fresh air.
However, there’s a limit to how much Chiarelli can reveal, how much of his genuine emotion he can release in public and what blame he can place on other people during a press conference at TD Garden.
Down the road, he might want to make a deal with Jay Feaster while he’s with Calgary or another team. He might want to pursue Jarome Iginla as a free agent this summer, or need to have a clean slate with the future Hall-of-Fame player in the future. Chiarelli will definitely have business to do with Iginla’s agent, Don Meehan, who represents many key NHL players.
And let’s face it, much like arguing a penalty call during a game, nothing Chiarelli says about Iginla’s decision to pick Pittsburgh over Boston or about how Feaster and Iginla handled this business is going to change the fact that by the weekend, the Penguins will boast a first line of Chris Kunitz, Sidney Crosby and Iginla.
Despite the rough-and-tumble nature of hockey on the ice, politeness rules the day off the ice. Even the biggest, meanest players typically were raised with the right values and treat everyone else with respect and manners. If Feaster was trying to carry the puck up ice with his head down, Chiarelli would try to flatten him. In this case, however, Chiarelli’s going to do his best not to make anyone look bad.
Luckily, I don’t have to worry about who I offend – especially when it comes to a multi-millionaire athlete who’s trying to avoid any tarnish on his image. The biggest reason Jarome Iginla is not a Boston Bruin today is because he didn’t want to come to Boston, and probably never wanted to wear Bruins black and gold.
However, when you’re held up not just in Calgary, but in the entire nation of Canada, as some sort of icon and saint, you have a reputation to protect. You can’t force your way out, can’t offend anyone. Out loud, you say you want to do the deal that’s best for yourself and Calgary. When push comes to shove, you pick Pittsburgh and the package that wasn’t better than the one Boston offered to help the Flames. You pick joining Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the Penguins instead of joining one of Pittsburgh’s biggest obstacles to winning this season because it suits you best.
By all accounts, Iginla has been an affable guy in good times and bad. Lucky for him, that’s enough to put the Canadian media in his back pocket. They’re so drunk with excitement over a Crosby-Iginla “Golden Goal” reunion, they’re not going to call Iginla on the fact that he left Feaster and Chiarelli looking like Abbott and Costello. It helped that public perception in Calgary is mostly anti-management and pro-player regardless of who it is coming off three straight playoff-less seasons. But in Iginla’s case he probably has even more of a Teflon status because of his ties to the community and his contributions to the national team.
If you submit a list of four teams you want to go to, that means you’re going wherever Feaster can make the best deal out of those teams.
Jarome Iginla didn’t want Boston, regardless of Chiarelli’s efforts to convince him with words, contract extensions or big tubs of Legal clam chowder.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.