The arc of Jarome Iginla’s career represents an absolutely striking symmetry.
Iginla is so ingrained as the face of the Flames that it’s almost easy to forget he was drafted by the Dallas Stars, 11th overall in 1995. He came to Calgary about six months later when the Flames parted with a prominent piece of their team in Joe Nieuwendyk – who was holding out for a new contract – in order to obtain a unique young talent.
Can you see where we’re going with this?
(Funny aside; Calgary actually targeted Todd Harvey, but “settled” for Iginla. Scroll down, you’ll find it.)
Iginla’s path from prospect to subject of trade talk as an incredibly accomplished veteran really does represent the natural order of sport and life. Both tend to be cyclical in nature and no matter what part of the ride you’re on, it’s important to recognize how to make the right moves to either change your lot or extend your stay in the penthouse.
We know both Iginla and the Flames have quashed trade talk. That situation, specifically, isn’t what this is about. The Calgary captain isn’t alone when it comes to absolute franchise icons currently in less-than-desirable situations. Sens right winger Daniel Alfredsson and Devils goalie Martin Brodeur are two late-30s guys with a little tread left on the tires toiling on teams that, to varying degrees, are going nowhere. Couldn’t both of those clubs kickstart a total revamp by exploring the value of their stars?
To be clear, I’ve never bought the notion a player owes it to a team to waive a mutually negotiated no-trade clause and allow himself to be moved somewhere else for the good of his former franchise. And I most definitely don’t think they should be publicly pressured or shamed into it by a management group. If a person has established himself in a certain city and has absolutely no desire to leave, I completely understand an unwillingness to uproot their life in pursuit of one last hockey thrill.
But what I cannot fathom is this ultra-romantic notion that a player’s career is tarnished if he spends the tail-end of it wearing another uniform.
Hey, Derek Jeter is one of the all-time New York Yankees, no doubt. But if I’m a Yankees fan examining his extravagant free agent demands at age 36, I’d be more concerned with the fact Jeter has already been compensated handsomely for his past achievements, but apparently wants to be paid for them again. Maybe the thought of him performing in anything but pinstripes - especially if it’s a Boston Red Sox outfit - seems sacrosanct, but wouldn’t the Yankees losing their above-all-else stance of always making moves geared towards winning the World Series be more offensive?
Trading mega-stars before they’re ready to hang ’em up helps teams rebuild more efficiently and effectively, which is what any supporter of a struggling club should want. Regardless of where Jeter ends up, there will ultimately be a weepy ceremony in Yankee Stadium to officially enshrine him with the rest of the legends. Is Guy Lafleur really viewed any differently than Maurice Richard and Jean Beliveau by Habs fans because he played a couple seasons for the Rangers and Nordiques?
If I’m a fan of the Flames, understanding what Iginla has meant to that team since he landed in Calgary nearly 15 years ago is the No. 1 reason to explore trading him. Embrace the cycle and save the tears for when No. 12 is lifted to the rafters some day.
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