When I first heard about the surprise trade (or trolling, depending on your point of view) of Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins, I was shocked because it was a complete plot twist. Once the shock wore off, I began to feel pity toward Iginla because he’d been traded into obscurity.
As a hockey fan living in the Penguins market area, it’s been my observation that there’s an unwritten rule on the team: no matter how talented you are or how long you’ve been in the NHL, you will never be as important to the team as Sidney Crosby. Not even Evgeni Malkin is as important as him. You could have the best season of your career, but Crosby will somehow factor in to your success.
Look at Chris Kunitz and his season. He’s putting up amazing numbers in points and goals. But it never fails that whenever Kunitz is mentioned, the hockey media always mentions the fact that he’s on Crosby’s line, as though that’s the only reason Kunitz is doing so well. Look at Malkin’s performance last season, winning the Art Ross Trophy. The only reason he was able to have such success and be a leader on the team was because Crosby didn’t return to the team for good until March 15, 2012. By then, Malkin was cruising toward his scoring title.
Contrary to what many think, this will not be a repeat of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Back then, Crosby and Iginla were teammates representing Canada, playing for national pride. Now they’re on an individual team, but Crosby is the captain. Iginla will never be as significant as Crosby, regardless of the 525 goals, 1095 points and 1219 games played he brings with him. Crosby is the alpha and omega on the Penguins, and everyone on the team – even his linemates – is beneath him.
Crosby may be having a stellar season, but I don’t feel it’s MVP worthy. It’s one thing to pick out the performance of one player and say that he’s contributed the most to his team’s success. But when you credit a team’s entire success on one player, as nearly everyone has been doing with Crosby, you dismiss the talent of his teammates and render them immaterial to the team. That’s not what the Hart Memorial Trophy represents.
Welcome to the Penguins, Jarome Iginla. Irrelevance and subordination await you as you head into the sunset of your NHL career.