|ESPN.com: BlogsColumns||[Print without images]|
BOSTON -- It's official.
Jarome Iginla does actually play for the Boston Bruins after the team finalized a one-year, incentive-laden deal Friday night.
Despite Iginla's choice to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins at the trade deadline instead of the Bruins, no one in the Boston organization feels any animosity toward the 36-year-old future Hall of Famer.
Both Iginla and Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli spoke about the transaction during a conference call Saturday.
|Jarome Iginla skates away as the Bruins celebrate their conference finals sweep of the Penguins.|
Iginla's agent first contacted Chiarelli on Thursday, and the Bruins GM admitted that the call raised his eyebrows a bit. But the recent history between the sides did not deter Chiarelli from 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.'"
At the time of the first contact, Chiarelli was in talks with another veteran right winger in Daniel Alfredsson, who ultimately signed with the Detroit Red Wings. Chiarelli spoke with Iginla's agent again Friday morning, and those talks continued throughout the day. In the early evening, Iginla's agent called Chiarelli and told the Bruins that Iginla wanted to play in Boston.
His one-year deal is performance based, with a base salary of $1.8 million and another $4.2 million in incentives adding up to $6 million. Those incentives are 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 contract like this one works for both sides.
"Jarome worked hard to get us into a deal that was friendly for us and would get him properly paid too, so I give Jarome credit for that," Chiarelli said. "We've acquired a player who is a terrific player; he's a Hall of Fame player. We lost some leadership when Andy Ference left, and [Rich Peverley] and [Nathan] Horton, but we feel Jarome is going to bring us some perfect leadership, terrific performance and he's motivated.
"I don't want to go through the events of the trade deadline, but I can tell you this: My opinion as a person and a player has not changed since then. We tried to get him then, and we're very happy to have him now. He's a highly motivated, elite player, and we look forward to him helping us win the Cup again."
So the obvious question for Iginla: Why this time?
"It's still a lot of the similarities why I wanted to go when I was debating leaving Calgary to possibly go to [Boston] then," Iginla said Saturday. "At the time, Pittsburgh was really rolling. [Boston and Pittsburgh] are two great organizations but [the Penguins] were just on a real roll, and at the time, leaving at the deadline, I thought, believed it was a great chance to win. We did make the final four, and it was a great experience, a great organization. We would've like to gone further, but we ran into the Bruins.
"But this time around, I was looking at it and I saw the Bruins. I wasn't sure if it was going to be an opportunity. 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 their 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."
Prior to the trade deadline, Iginla gave the Flames, the team he had spent his entire career with, a list of four teams he would consider waiving his no-movement clause to play for -- the Bruins, Penguins, Chicago Blackhawks and Los Angeles Kings.
The original deal that was struck March 28 was Iginla to Boston in exchange for defenseman Matt Bartkowski, forward prospect Alexander Khokhlachev and a first-round draft pick. The deal did not come to fruition because Iginla picked the Penguins, saying he wanted an opportunity to play with Sidney Crosby.
The day after, Chiarelli explained exactly how the deal was built and how it fell apart. The Bruins' players and coaches said they had no ill will toward Iginla.
His decision to skip out on Boston helped the Bruins in numerous ways.
Bartkowski was called into action during the Stanley Cup playoffs and played seven games when injuries to Dennis Seidenberg and Ference kept the veterans out of the lineup in the early rounds. Bartkowski played well and provided a goal and assist in the playoffs. More importantly, he proved he could handle the big stage, which made the organization's decision not to re-sign Ference this summer a lot easier.
In 15 postseason games for the Penguins, Iginla scored four goals and added eight assists. However, he was held pointless during Boston's four-game sweep in the conference finals. Ironically enough, he redirected the shot by Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid that proved to be the game-winning goal in Game 4.
|Nathan Horton hurt his shoulder in this April 20 fight with Iginla.|
The one thing Iginla did do against the Bruins was help to injure Horton during a regular-season fight April 20. It was the first time Iginla faced the Bruins as a Penguin, and the two dropped the gloves in the first period during Boston's 3-2 loss. During that bout, Horton suffered a separated shoulder, which forced him to miss the final five regular-season games. He played with the injury throughout the playoffs and will have surgery this offseason to repair the damage.
Horton, now a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets thanks to a seven-year deal worth $37.1 million, will likely be out until December due to the surgery.
As far as where Iginla fits in, Chiarelli said Iginla has the ability to play on the top line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic or could be effective on Patrice Bergeron's line with Brad Marchand.
"We're fortunate when a player of his caliber is available and comes to us on a cap-friendly basis," Chiarelli said. "His style of play is so conducive to the way we play, so again, we're very fortunate.
"Jarome can play on either [of those lines]. He's a very good two-way player. He can easily play on the shutdown, high-end minutes on Bergy's line, or he can shoot. He's got a terrific wrist shot, a slap-shot one-timer, so he can fill in the shooting role too."
When the season ended and Iginla was officially an unrestricted free agent, he realized the Penguins were up against the salary cap and figured Boston would be a good fit for his chances of winning a Stanley Cup.
"Boston has a core that's been together for a long time," Iginla said. "They've been through so much already over the last five years and have had so much success. I look forward to coming in and learning, playing with them and playing hard. The chance to come to Boston is partly about an opportunity to win but also to enjoy it, and for my family to enjoy it, enjoy playing in the NHL and be on a contending team where during the season you're battling and you have that confidence. So it's not just about winning; it's about learning and enjoying it."
When speaking about his decision to play for the Penguins at the deadline, Iginla was respectful of the Pittsburgh organization. He said he enjoyed the opportunity to play with Crosby & Co. but now it's a new chapter in his career and he likes the opportunity to play for the Bruins.