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BOSTON – If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
The Boston Bruins signed free-agent forward Jarome Iginla, 36, to a one-year deal worth $6 million on Friday.
Iginla's agent first contacted Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli last Thursday, and the Bruins GM admitted the call raised his eyebrows a bit, thinking "really?" But the recent history between the sides did not deter Chiarelli from getting excited about the possibility of adding Iginla to the mix.
"As I said back in April, those things happen, they just don't become as public as they did," Chiarelli said. "You don't harbor any ill feelings and I told Jarome that [Friday night] when I talked to him I said, 'It's part of the business.' When Don Meehan called me, I raised my eyebrows and I said, 'Really?' I was excited."
The Bruins announced that Iginla's base salary is $1.8 million, and another $4.2 million in incentives adds up to a $6 million salary-cap figure. A source had told ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun that the incentives include a games-played bonus of $3.7 million and a goal-scoring/team playoff performance bonus of $500,000.
"It's actually a very good gesture by Jarome, it's similar to the one Mark Recchi made two years in a row," said Chiarelli. "It's a cap-friendly deal and he will get the bulk of his compensation in attainable performance bonuses."
A little more than three months ago, the Bruins thought they had won the Iginla sweepstakes before the trade deadline to acquire the veteran forward from the Calgary Flames. In the 11th hour, however, Iginla decided he wanted to play with the Pittsburgh Penguins, thinking he'd have a better chance to win the Stanley Cup with Sidney Crosby & Co.
The Bruins and the Penguins eventually faced off in the Eastern Conference finals and Boston finished with a four-game sweep to earn its second trip the Stanley Cup finals in a three-year span.
"I wasn't sure if it was going to be an opportunity," Iginla said. "I wasn't sure how Peter felt or how the Bruins felt about possibly having me. I did ask my agent to explore it and I'm thrilled it's a chance. The city is an amazing sports city. I have friends who played there and they're a team year in and year out is extremely competitive and very hard to play against.
"They play a physical, aggressive style and I like that. I know a lot of guys on the team and have a lot of respect for them. I'm thrilled to get the chance to join them, another opportunity and be a part of it."
Iginla projects to take Nathan Horton's place at the right wing on the Bruins' top line, alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Horton signed a seven-year deal with Columbus on Friday.
Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron was a teammate of Iginla's on Team Canada when they won the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
"It's a great signing for us. He is a terrific player and leader. His experience will definitely help us. Looking forward to being his teammate," Bergeron told ESPNBoston.com.
After the Bruins completed their sweep of the Penguins on June 7, Lucic was asked about how it felt to prove to Iginla that he chose the wrong team.
"First off, he's a great player. He's a legend, he's a future Hall of Famer and I think looking back at that day, he earned the right to make the decision that he made," Lucic said. "You can never blame a guy for going with his heart and making that type of decision. I'm not going to insult him in any way. He's a guy that I always looked up to as a teenager and seeing the way that he played. As a Canadian, seeing what he did in the Olympics and all that type of stuff, he's definitely an idol of mine. But like I said, he earned that right to make the decision that he made. I'm sure if he could go back he would make a different decision, but in saying that, he's still a great player. He's got a few more years ahead of him, and you wish him nothing but the best."
Lucic added that Iginla's decision motivated the Bruins.
"We kind of took it that way, in that sense that when a guy chooses another team over your team, it kind of does light a little bit of a fire underneath you. Fortunately, we were able to turn it into a positive more than a negative," Lucic said.
Now, they're teammates and possibly linemates when the puck drops on the 2013-14 season.
Iginla is one of three active NHL players with more than 500 career goals. He ranks third with 530, trailing Jaromir Jagr (681) and Teemu Selanne (675). In 2013, Iginla had 33 points (14 goals, 19 assists) in 44 games for Calgary and Pittsburgh.
Similar to the game itself, Day 1 of NHL free agency was fast and furious.
Despite the salary cap decreasing for the 2013-2014 season to $64.3 million per team, clubs across the board spent money in order to improve.
A day after the Bruins completed a seven-player trade that involved sending forwards Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley to the Dallas Stars in exchange for Loui Eriksson and prospects Joe Morrow, Reilly Smith and Matt Fraser, it appeared the Bruins would be relatively quiet Friday.
Chiarelli was heavily involved in talks with veteran free-agent forward Daniel Alfredsson, but he ultimately chose to sign with the Detroit Red Wings for one year and $5.5 million.
With the exit of Seguin and Horton from Boston, Chiarelli is trying to rebuild the right-wing position with the Bruins. Alfredsson would have been a nice fit and Chiarelli put on a full-court press to no avail. Even the possible return of Michael Ryder to the mix in Boston would have worked, too, but the crafty winger signed with the New Jersey Devils.