BOSTON -- Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Thursday that he was told by the Calgary Flames on Wednesday afternoon that star winger Jarome Iginla would be traded to Boston, only to be informed late that night that the player had chosen the Pittsburgh Penguins instead.
The Bruins thought they were sending defenseman Matt Bartkowski, prospect Alexander Khokhlachev and a first-round draft pick to the Flames in exchange for Iginla, but instead were left standing at the altar.
"We were told around noon yesterday that we had the player, we won the sweepstakes so to speak," Chiarelli said. "[Flames GM Jay Feaster] just had to talk to Jarome and his agent regarding the logistics of everything. So from that point on there had been some discussions regarding Jarome taking some time, not to decide, just to let things soak in. And then we had our game. Prior to that we made moves, as did they. They scratched Jarome, we made moves, scratching [Bartkowski] and [Khokhlachev]. ...
"We relied on the fact we had a deal. Now, these things happen all the time, more than you know, about deals going south for whatever reason. We believe we had a deal. We operated on the premise of the deal. When things were silent, in my experience you know when things go silent, usually something is going screwy, and it was."
Finally the Bruins were contacted.
"Later that night, around a quarter to 12, I got a call from Jay saying it was the player's choice and he opted to go to Pittsburgh," Chiarelli said. "So we were out."
Iginla went to the Penguins in exchange for the rights to college players Kenneth Agostino and Ben Hanowski as well as Pittsburgh's first pick in the 2013 draft.
Iginla, who has a no-movement clause in his contract, had given the Flames three teams to which he would accept a trade -- the Bruins, Penguins and Los Angeles Kings, a source told ESPN.com.
"I wasn't fully sure what was going on, but I knew Pittsburgh was in the mix with Boston," he said. "They're both amazing cities, very successful organizations, and great teams. As far as when it comes down to the choice that I had in one or the other, it's really hard as a player to pass up the opportunity to play on a team with Sid and Malkin, and the roll that they're on and the success they had."
Chiarelli said he didn't speak with Iginla during this process, which he said spanned the past couple of weeks, though he did ask to talk to him.
"No, there's nothing we could have done to convince him," said Chiarelli, who said he bore no ill will toward Feaster and the Flames or Iginla.
"It's tough," Chiarelli said of Iginla, who has nine goals and 13 assists in 31 games this season, his 16th in the league, all with Calgary. "We're talking about a really good player. It's like on July 1 when you're trying to sign a player, and you do everything you can to try to convince the player, and while we couldn't talk to the player in this instance, and then you don't get him, there's a real high, then a real low. You get used to it. This kind of stuff happens all the time. It shouldn't, but it does. The reality of a no-move and no-trade clauses, it's going to happen more.
"It's a disappointment, but you get back on your horse and you find some more players."
Earlier Thursday, Feaster acknowledged that Iginla's desire to play for the Penguins was the deciding factor in the deal.
"We all understand in this business, a player who has a no-trade/no-move has an opportunity to decide when and whether to waive that, so we dealt with the teams that were given to us by the player and we had a deal with Boston that we liked," Feaster said. "We certainly felt that would have been an acceptable way to go as an organization. The player indicated that he wanted to be with Pittsburgh, and so we got a deal done with Pittsburgh."
The trade marks the third big move by the Eastern Conference-leading Penguins ahead of Wednesday's deadline. They acquired veteran forward Brenden Morrow Sunday from the Dallas Stars, and picked up burly San Jose defenseman Douglas Murray on Monday.
Chiarelli has a Plan B and said he will improve the team before Wednesday's deadline. He would like to add a forward and a defenseman to the mix. Players of interest include San Jose Sharks forward Ryane Clowe, Tampa Bay Lightning forward Martin St. Louis, Edmonton Oilers defenseman Ryan Whitney and New York Islanders defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky.
"I think we can win with our team, but I think we have to be improved," Chiarelli said. "There's a lot of luck involved. You have to have everyone clicking. We have the ability to add players, but it's been the hardest I've ever seen in my years because of the short supply."
Chiarelli has the resources and the tools, as far as cap space and talented prospects, to make a deal that works.
"There are players out there and we're in on players. There's always other players, and that was a good player -- a really good player," Chiarelli said. "The circumstances change a little bit, as far as the cap perspective for next year because it goes down, so it makes rentals a little more valuable this year for a certain groups of teams, including ourselves. So you have to be a little more creative and you have to open up your decision process to more things."
Information from ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald was used in this report.