We’re only one game into the Boston Bruins regular season, but its safe to say the fans of the black and gold are on their way to forgetting all about the hatred they used to feel for Jarome Iginla.
Many believed Iginla’s debut with the team was to take place last spring, when it was announced that the Calgary Flames were trading one of their franchise greats to Boston. However, overnight the narrative changed, with Iginla calling an audible and orchestrating a trade to the Pittsburgh Penguins instead. He was met with an abundant amount of boos when the Penguins visited Boston any time last season, including the Eastern Conference Finals.
Well, the debut everyone was hoping for last year finally took place last night. Iginla, acquired during the offseason as a free agent by Bruins’ GM Peter Chiarelli, took the ice as a Bruin last night, helping the team defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning in the regular season opener.
He didn’t score any points on the night, but still ended up doing a lot to win the approval of his new team’s fanbase. He created plenty of scoring opportunities, and though Boston’s powerplay was — as expected — a lifeless 0-for-3, Iginla was able to get some decent shots on net. This, alone, was enough of a culture shock for fans.
However, it was in the second period that he really introduced himself to Beantown. After getting decked by Radko Gudas, Iginla jumped to his skates, dropped the gloves and the two players engaged in a spirited fight. It wasn’t a dirty hit, and Iginla admitted as much. However, he told reporters after the game that it was his attempt to show the crowd he was on board with the Bruins’ style of hockey.
“I felt it was a good time to respond,” he said. “It’s been Bruins hockey for a long time; guys stick up for each other. But you also have to stick up for yourself because you don’t want anyone else rushing in on a good clean hit. It’s just part of the intensity, part of the emotion, just part of the battle.”
For what its worth, the fans were very receptive. Iginla received quite an ovation as he skated to the penalty box, and he definitely felt appreciative of the response.
“I appreciated it and I was thankful for it,” he said. “You never know how it’s going to be. If you’re in a different building and other fans boo, you never care. But you don’t really want the home fans doing it because it doesn’t feel good if you’re getting booed. I definitely appreciated that and they’ve been great. It’s good to be part of the team and part of a win.”
The fans weren’t the only ones who took note of this display of toughness. Milan Lucic, one of Iginla’s linemates, showed a great deal of respect towards a player he’s looked up to for a long time. This was especially important since it was Lucic’s pass that put Iginla in a position to get hit.
“It was a bit of a suicide pass on my part,” Lucic said. “I apologized to him after that pass, but one of the reasons I always looked up to him is he’s willing to stick up for himself in the right situations and you saw it there.”
Its just one game, and there are 81 more chances for Iginla to prove his worth. But for a night in which he didn’t find himself on the box score, he certainly gave himself a great start.