Photo courtesy S. Yume

A farewell letter to Calgary Flames Captain Jarome Iginla

By Ian Pham, August 30 2018 —

As a life-long Calgarian, I’ve known the name ‘Jarome Iginla’ for all my life — it’s one that’s synonymous with hometown hero, philanthropist, role model and captain of the Calgary Flames. He was the face of the Flames for as long as I can remember. To this day, with a new generation of hockey stars on the ice, there has yet to be anyone in Calgary able to fill the role of leader the way that Iggy did during his time as a Flame.

Iginla’s trade to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2013 was the end of an era for our great hockey town. Now, with his retirement still raw in the hearts and minds of Calgarians, the nostalgia of his departure has come flooding back. This time, though, it’s not just Flames fans but the entire hockey world feeling bittersweet, as we all come together to say goodbye to one of the greatest to ever play in the National Hockey League.

Reflecting on Iginla’s hockey career starts with his many on-ice achievements. At the finish line, Iginla can fondly look back on his total tally of 1,300 career points, comprised of 625 goals and 675 assists recorded over 1,554 regular season games in 20 NHL seasons — 16 of which were in Calgary. Of his 1,300 points, Iggy scored 1,095 of them in a Flames jersey, making him Calgary’s all-time scoring leader. Throughout his professional career, the Flames captain also accumulated a hefty array of awards, including an Art Ross Trophy, a Lester B. Pearson Award, a pair of ‘Rocket’ Richards and two Olympic gold medals for Team Canada.

Off the ice, Iginla spent much of his time contributing to charitable causes and serving his community. In classic Iggy fashion, much of his charitable work was low-key, out of the spotlight and away from the headlines. One of the most notable charities he worked with is KidSport Canada, a Calgary non-profit in which Iggy served as an athlete ambassador from 2000 to 2013, donating more than $700,000 during that period.

Moreover, according to Flames assistant coach and former teammate Martin Gelinas, Iginla had a passion for sharing the game of hockey with others, doing so by signing autographs, visiting schools and engaging with the community.

As a hockey player and as a human being, Iginla is a role model through and through — an exemplification of what it means to be a leader. On or off the ice, it’s clear that Iginla is living his best life, always aspiring to be the best person he can be.

There are so many memories that Iginla gave me as a hockey fan. The two moments that resonate most with me are, first, his ‘golden pass’ to Sidney Crosby in the 2010 Olympic Gold Medal game, which sealed Canada’s victory over Team USA. The second is his famous fight with Derian Hatcher in Game Two of the 2004 Stanley Cup Western Conference Semifinals.

In the first memory, Iggy played the role of the dependable teammate making an invaluable contribution to his team’s glorious overtime victory over the hungry and formidable U.S. opponents in a storybook game for the ages.

The second memory, by contrast, demonstrates his fidelity as a fearless leader. When his team needed him most, Iggy stepped up and dropped the gloves against Hatcher, the large and notorious provocateur sent in by Detroit to terrorize the smaller Calgary team. Iggy won that fight and in the process energized his team and instilled some much-needed confidence in his players.

The Flames would go on to defeat the Red Wings in that playoff series before besting the San Jose Sharks but ultimately falling to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals. Though the dream of hoisting the Stanley Cup was just out of reach, that miracle playoff run spearheaded by Iginla’s leadership would resonate in the hearts of Calgarians for years to come.

It goes without saying that I am sad to see Iginla leave the game of professional hockey for good. However, I am also happy for him and honoured to have watched him play this wonderful game, in his unique and wonderful way, for as long as he did.

To Captain Jarome Iginla, I bid a heartfelt farewell and wish him all the best in the next chapter of his life. Knowing him, it will be a good one.

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