- Jarome Iginla will retire on July 30th as one of the NHL's most notable power forwards following a 20-year career that will have him go down as one of the league's steadiest scoring threats.
After 1,553 games, 625 goals and 1,300 points over 20 seasons with five NHL teams, Jarome Iginla is hanging up his skates.
The 41-year-old two-time Rocket Richard Trophy winner and MVP—full name Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tij Junior Elvis Iginla—is set to announce his retirement on July 30 with the Calgary Flames, the team he spent 16 seasons with, becoming the franchise leader with 525 goals and 1,095 points in addition to power-play goals (161), game-winning goals (83), and ranking second in assists with 609. His resume is filled with All-Star Game appearances and trophies, including the goal- and point-scoring crowns in 2002, a season in which he also took home the Lester B. Pearson Trophy after being named most valuable player by his leaguemates. The Canadian also accrued a pair of Olympic gold medals and and landed himself on the cover EA NHL 2003.
"I don't sit here now and think, 'Man, it flew by. I wish I'd enjoyed it more,’” he said. “When I started, you have a dream about making [it] in the NHL, how good it's going to be and what it's like. I enjoyed it while it was happening."
Iginla’s NHL odyssey began in 1995, when he was drafted by the Dallas Stars with the 11th pick, though he never suited up for the team, being traded to the Flames in December, appearing in a pair of playoff games in 1996 before netting 21 goals and 50 points the following season to earn All-Rookie Team honors.
From there, Iginla quickly became one of the league’s premiere scorers and power forwards, scoring 30-plus goals in 11 straight seasons from 2000-01 to 2011-12, a streak that included four seasons of 40-plus tallies, twice hitting the 50-goal plateau. The high-scoring consistency was made even more notable due to eight seasons spent playing in the 'Dead Puck Era,' in which goals were hard to come by around the NHL.
Iginla captained the Flames from 2003-13, leading the team to the Stanley Cup Final in 2004, the closest he would get to lifting the Cup, the biggest gap on his dazzling resume.
“I know now that dream isn't coming true,” he said. “And all my dreams came true, more than I ever could've imagined, except that one dream. It just wasn't in the cards for me.”
As dangerous as Iginla was with the puck, he was equally feared with his fists, racking up 1,040 penalty minutes over his career—just one of nine players to notch over 600 goals and 1,000 PIMs.
“He could play the game any way you wanted,” former Calgary teammate and current Flames assistant GM Craig Conroy mused. "When it got hard, he got better. That really seemed to take his game up a level or two. When he got mad … hoo boy. Look out.”
Never afraid to drop his gloves and engage in fisticuffs, Iginla racked up 72 heavyweight bouts over his career, with perhaps his most notable scuffle coming against Lightning forward Vincent Lecavalier during Game 3 of the '04 Cup Final. What started as a tussle in the corner between captains turned into two of the league's biggest stars trading blows on the biggest stage.
Late in that same Final, Iginla further cemented himself as one of the NHL’s stars with a one-minute performance in Game 5 that simply became known as “The Shift.” From SI’s Michael Farber:
“During the Shift, Iginla lost his helmet in a collision, nearly created a goal in the Lightning end with a backhand pass, backchecked like a man whirring at 78 rpm in a 33 1/3 universe and then hurtled back down the ice for an industrial-strength slap shot that goalie Nikolai Khabibulin could not control. The puck caromed to Flames forward Oleg Saprykin, who rammed in the winner at 14:40 of overtime in the last game that underdog Calgary would win from Tampa Bay.”
His time in Calgary came to an end in 2013 as the team languished toward the bottom of the standings, leading to a trade to the Pittsburgh Penguins ahead of the deadline in March.
"When I was traded from Calgary, I must admit, I had to catch myself a couple times," Iginla said. "I didn't want to be crying. Nothing against anybody who cries, understand ... but it was emotional. The closing of a neat part of my career, a long part of my career."
The deal gave him a chance to chase the elusive Stanley Cup with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, though the Pens’ pursuit came up short as they fell to the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final. Iginla then joined the Bruins as a free agent for the 2013-14 season, posting the 12th 30-goal season of his career as Boston won the Presidents’ Trophy with a 117-point effort.
With the Bruins tight on salary cap space, the power forward inked a three-year deal to join the Colorado Avalanche, a tenure in which he notched 59 goals and 124 points in 225 games before being dealt to the Los Angeles Kings. Iginla’s time with the Kings was short—just 19 games—including the last of his career on April 3, 2017.
Hip surgery kept him out of the NHL for the 2017-18 season, though he revealed that he was looking to return to playing. Instead, Iginla will call it a career.
"If you said when I started that I was going to play 20 years, experience what I have, I'd have taken it in a heartbeat," Iginla said.
He finishes his career in a tie for the 16th-highest career goal total, and sits 34th in league history for points scored, though he also made his mark off the ice, getting recognized by the NHL for his charitable contributions with the 2013 NHL Foundation Player Award. He’s donated countless hours and dollars over the years to numerous causes, including literacy, diversity and youth hockey programs, many of which are based in Calgary.
While Iginla currently resides in Boston, it was only fitting he finish off his career in the same place it began.
"It's been a fun adventure, for my family and I,” he said. “Some great cities, great people. To be back in Alberta, though, will feel like home."