BOSTON (CBS) — The Bruins played one of their 82 regular-season games on Tuesday night, picking up two points in a win over the Flames in a contest that was not particularly remarkable for anything that went on between the opening puck drop and the final buzzer. But for Jarome Iginla and the fans in Calgary, it was much more than “just another game.”
For the first time ever as a visiting NHL player, Iginla returned to the Saddledome, the place he called home for his first 15 years in the NHL. He was captain of the Flames for the last nine of those seasons before he was traded to the Penguins last year and then signed with the Bruins in the offseason. The veteran winger is on a mission to win a Stanley Cup, an opportunity which the Flames no longer realistically gave him, and the Calgary fans in attendance on Tuesday certainly didn’t show any signs of begrudging him for leaving town.
During pregame introductions, the home crowd chanted “Ig-gy! Ig-gy!” in unison, and the crowd collectively rose to give Iginla a standing ovation for the ceremonial puck drop.
The Flames then played a highlight video of Iginla, showing some of his finest moments on the ice and in the community, capped off with a “Welcome back, Iggy” message. Another standing ovation from the capacity crowd followed, one that extended far longer than the allotted time and led to yet another “Ig-gy” chant.
Of course, there was a game to be played, and Iginla logged 21:36 of ice time, the second-highest total of the season for the 36-year-old. Late in the game, with the Bruins leading 2-1, Iginla was on the ice looking to score an empty-net goal to cap off the night. The Calgary fans were even cheering loudly to see that happen, figuring that partaking in a celebration for Iginla would be much more memorable than seeing their next-to-last-place team come back late.
Iginla didn’t score the empty-netter, but he was named the third star of the game, which meant he went back out onto the ice for one last lap around the ice. Iginla gave a fist pump to fans as his number 12 lit up the ice, and he then headed back to the locker room but found a 6-foot-9 roadblock named Zdeno Chara standing in his way. The Bruins’ captain directed Iginla to go back out onto the ice, and Chara was later joined by most of his teammates, who refused to let Iginla off the ice.
“You don’t really know what the response is going to be. People were great and they made it very special for myself and for my mom – I haven’t talked to her yet – and my dad,” Iginla told reporters after the 2-1 Bruins win. “It’s pretty cool and it’s humbling and people are cheering and it’s pretty special. It did make me feel good.”
Iginla also told TSN after the game, “It was something that I will definitely remember for as long as I live.”
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