It felt like Jarome Iginla was a Bruin for longer than just a season, didn’t it?
Maybe it’s because the trade/no-trade with Calgary in March 2013 put him on the Boston radar (and nearly the Boston roster) before he finally did come here last July.
Or maybe it’s because Iginla, who scored 525 goals in 16 seasons with the Flames, was that rarest player: A true superstar who forever looked like he’d be a perfect fit with the Bruins’ gritty style. He was easy to imagine in black-and-gold. It turned out he was a perfect fit, the ideal replacement for Nathan Horton on the first line.
With 30 goals last season, everything went according to plan except for the ending.
Both endings, as it turned out.
The Bruins were bounced by the Canadiens — damn, can you imagine how fun a Stanley Cup Final against those Kings might have been? — and now Iginla is taking his Cup quest elsewhere, accepting the security of a three-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche.
It was one year. It should have been more. Iginla was a Bruin for just a season, but in style, successes, and substance, he struck you as someone who should have been a Bruin for life.
But the Bruins’ cap situation, Peter Chiarelli’s unwillingness to disperse some depth elsewhere in order to keep him around, and Iginla’s appeal to pretty much every other team in the NHL with a few bucks to spend conspired to abbreviate his Boston stint.
He was barely here long enough for anyone to memorize this full name: that’s Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla to you, and wouldn’t that name have looked great on the Cup alongside all of those Bruins’ teammates?
Now he’s gone to Colorado, his fourth team in three seasons, and the Bruins are lesser team for it.
Make no mistake, this is a blow.
I like Loui Eriksson as an all-around player. But the suggestion that he can move up to the first line with Milan Lucic and David Krejci strikes me as easily accepting a huge downgrade. Hell, I don’t want to see third liners moved up; I want to see Lucic moved down.
The Bruins had scoring issues against the Canadiens, and Eriksson, who is one of those player who seems to hit the crossbar or post or just can’t quite get his stick on it in big moments, is not a first-line solution. He’s a good player who had something going with Carl Soderberg on the third line. But he’s no solution to replacing Iginla.
I do have hard time blaming Chiarelli for this. He went for it this year, the team didn’t deliver, and now there are cap consequences to pay. Dougie Hamilton (restricted free agent after this season) and David Krejci (unrestriced) will need to be paid. Torey Krug needs to be signed, as does Reilly Smith.
There are things I wish he’d do to clear some space. The Bruins’ value Chris Kelly’s leadership, but he was injured and ineffective this year, and with Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron in the room, secondary leadership probably isn’t that important. Johnny Boychuk is a fine defenseman, but his salary may soon exceed his contributions.
Chiarelli chose not to sacrifice depth — and part of the young core — for Iginla, and that’s probably prudent.
Even Iginla recognized as much, telling TSN: “They’re in a tough position with the cap. They were having a hard time with a one-year deal. They have some great young players they’ve got to keep and sign. I understand that. We were trying to get something to work. But I’d like to keep playing after this year. I feel good. I think I can be effective. Even if they could squeeze me in at one year this year, they most likely wouldn’t be able to do it next year with the guys that are up.”
The Bruins got one year out of Jarome Iginla, and it was fine one, just as we’d always expected when imagining him as a Bruin. If only there could have been a way to get one more.