- Joe McDonald, ESPN Staff Writer
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BOSTON -- Jarome Iginla arrived here with the hope of winning his first Stanley Cup title.
The future Hall of Famer successfully completed his incentive-laden, one-year, $6 million deal with the Boston Bruins, but the team fell short of its goal of winning a championship. Now Iginla, 36, is an unrestricted free agent and would like to return to Boston next season, and maybe beyond.
"I'm very thankful for getting the chance to be here this year. I had a great time. I had a great experience all the way through, around the city, with the team and the guys," Iginla said. "It was a great opportunity here, and I got to play with some great players. It's a real strong room with great leadership with [Zdeno Chara] and [Patrice Bergeron]. It's a great group, and I hope to be able to come back. I hope there's a deal that works out for everyone, but I know the Bruins will look at what they want to do, but I really enjoyed it and hope that there's something to be worked out."
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said he was impressed with Iginla's contributions this season and believes the veteran forward fits perfectly with Boston's style of play. Iginla learned firsthand this Bruins team is built to win another Cup, and he wants to be a part of it.
"I think it's a team that has as good a shot as any to win," he said. "I think that next year the team, whether I'm here or not, they're going to be a force here for a while."
It's no coincidence top-line center David Krejci and winger Milan Lucic enjoyed the most consistent season of their respective careers with Iginla in the mix. Lucic hopes his linemate returns next season.
"He was really good for us this year," Lucic said. "A 30-goal season for him, and I think he brought an element of consistency to our line. You can see why he's the type of player that he's been over the last 17 years, from a consistency standpoint. You can see it in practice, and you'd love nothing more than to have him back. You guys all know that I've loved him from watching him play, growing up as a teenager getting to watch him play. He's one of those guys that you look up to. He's everything that you thought he was going to be as a person and as a player. That's why it was such a fun year to have him here, and you hope that it continues moving forward and he continues being a Bruin. He looked pretty good in our colors, and I'm sure he'd like to stay here as well."
5dPierre LeBrun and Joe McDonald