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Thursday, March 28, 2013
Penguins stun all by grabbing Jarome Iginla

By Pierre LeBrun

Oh that cagey Ray Shero.

Just when it appeared the Boston Bruins were zeroing in on Jarome Iginla, the Pittsburgh Penguins' GM hung in on trade talks with the Calgary Flames and won the Iggy sweepstakes Wednesday night. Or Thursday morning.

It was a total stunner.

"You know there’s other teams in it and you can’t control that, I was just focused on what we could offer and making a deal we could live with," Shero told ESPN.com just past 2:30 a.m. ET, capping a long day.

"A player like Jarome Iginla doesn’t come around very often," he added.

I guess I shouldn’t be totally shocked. After all, I wrote on Monday that I believed the Penguins would remain in the Iginla race even after trading for Brenden Morrow and Douglas Murray.

I have to tell you, I got my share of tweets and emails saying I was out of my mind on that front.

And truth be told, if you asked me to bet my life savings, I would have pointed to Boston as a more likely destination for Iginla, if for no other reason than the Bruins had more urgency to make an addition after what Eastern Conference rival Pittsburgh already had accomplished.

But despite the Murray and Morrow deals, Shero never stopped chasing Iginla this week.

"We still wanted to add Jarome," the GM said. "We just tried to stay in it."

Even as late as Wednesday morning, a Western Conference executive texted me and said, "Pittsburgh is still sniffing on Iginla."

Turns out the Penguins were more than sniffing, stealing the show late into the night after reports and tweets pointed to the Bruins getting Iginla.

There are certainly people in the Bruins' organization who thought they had him at one point Wednesday, but the deal never closed.

Why? Because Iginla himself chose Pittsburgh as his team of choice, Flames GM Jay Feaster said at a news conference late Wednesday night in Calgary.

A source told ESPN.com after the trade was announced that Iginla’s final list of teams included just three: Boston, Pittsburgh and Los Angeles.

A Kings source early Wednesday evening told ESPN.com they were out early and felt they were really never that close at all.

Pittsburgh nipped out Boston, sending college prospects Kenneth Agostino and Ben Hanowski and a first-round pick in this summer's draft to Calgary.

Morrow, Murray and Iginla added to the Pens within four days -- can you say "ALL IN?" Tell me that won’t be the Penguins’ playoff motto slapped on their dressing room wall come May.

The Penguins will need to deal with reality next season when talks on extensions for Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang will take precedence at the same time the NHL salary cap goes down from $70.2 million this season to $64.3 million.

But this is the season to have fun. To play with house money. And to trade away assets to Dallas, San Jose and Calgary that the Penguins can live without because the team has done a superb job of stockpiling those assets over the years.

They far from emptied the cupboard. There are more quality prospects in this organization.

And now they’re locked and loaded for a Stanley Cup run, and who’s going to bet against them?

"All the stuff on paper seems nice, but it doesn’t mean anything," warned Shero. "Hockey is about chemistry and making it work. We have to go out and prove it."

Boston? The Bruins have now lost out to the rival Penguins on Morrow and Iginla in the same week. And twice because the player wanted to go to Pittsburgh instead.

Should Boston and Pittsburgh meet in the playoffs at some point this spring, the Morrow/Iginla storylines are already drawn up.

You’re smarting now if you’re a Bruins fan. But there’s still six days to go before the trade deadline.

I’m a big believer in Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli. He already had other irons in the fire in case he didn’t connect on Iginla, and he’ll re-focus on Thursday morning.

This tale isn’t over yet, but what a tale it’s been so far in Pittsburgh.