By Evan Sporer, Boston.com Correspondent
As free agency opened, it appeared to be a matter of when, not if, for Jarome Iginla. And when came just over two hours into the signing period, as the 37-year-old veteran inked a three-year deal with the Avalanche, officially ending his tenure in Boston.
And while Iginla and the Bruins tried to come to an agreement ahead of July 1, a thin free agent class and an increased salary cap were always going to do the Bruins in. Iginla’s goal scoring will be missed, and the Bruins will need a new battering mate from Milan Lucic and David Krejci, but Peter Chiarelli and co. made the right choice.
Iginla will make $5.5 million over the first two years of his new deal, before making $5 million in a season in which he will be 40 years old. While his production hasn’t dipped (Iginla has scored 30 goals in every full season he has played since 1999), the Bruins' cap situation, their influx of young talent, and their ability to replace Iginla internally made it all the more difficult to meet his demands.
The way Iginla’s tenure will be viewed in Boston began before he ever put on the spoked-B. That came the season prior, when the lifetime Calgary Flame chose to join the Penguins over the Bruins at the trade deadline, leading to Iginla becoming vilified by the Boston faithful. He was incessantly booed when the Penguins traveled to TD Garden that season to face the Bruins in a regular season matchup, and then was jeered every time he touched the puck during their Eastern Conference Finals series.
Iginla was supposed to put the Penguins over the hump, only he didn’t. So last summer, as a free agent, he signed a one-year deal with the same Bruins team he jolted the trade deadline prior. His deal carried a very low base (only a $1.8 million cap hit) but allowed him to earn over $4 million in bonuses. A similar contract was the only chance Iginla had at re-upping in Boston, but the market came calling, singing a much more lucrative tune.
From the second he joined the Bruins, it was easy to forget about his decision to join the Penguins. He produced on a regular basis on the score sheet, and played a black-and-blue style that so beloved by the Black and Gold faithful.
So it’s easy to point the finger again at Iginla today; his departure has as much to do with his desire to sign a multi-year deal than anything else. But Iginla made good during his one year in a Bruins sweater, and is a gentleman of the game. To characterize his Bruins career in any other manner is simply revisionist history.