As expected, it was a tremendously emotional night as long-time former Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla made his return to the city as a member of the Boston Bruins. Iginla’s 16-year run with the organization ended last season when he was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He left as the Flames’ all-time leader in goals, points and games played and will always be remembered for the leadership he showed in leading the team to an improbable run to the Stanley Cup final back in 2004.
As expected Iginla received a warm and rousing ovation from the Flame faithful as he was honored prior to the game with a video tribute and received a lengthy standing ovation. There were plenty of highlights to choose from in the tribute as Iginla led the team in scoring for a remarkable 11 straight seasons while establishing himself as one of the top power forwards in the league. He reached the 50-goal plateau twice and is among an elite group to score 30-goals in eleven straight NHL seasons. The video and the tremendous response was a classy gesture by the organization and its fans for a player who exuded class during his lengthy tenure as a Flame.
Iginla and his Bruin teammates were rather sluggish through 40 minutes as the Flames enjoyed a 1-0 advantage thanks to a goal from Jiri Hudler. The veteran continues to have a solid campaign with nine goals and 19 assists in 30 games. The normally rugged Bruins had been non-existent in the physical department in the first two periods and could only manage nine shots on Calgary goalie Reto Berra.
After hearing it from Bruins head coach Claude Julien in the second intermission, things would change in the final 20 minutes. The Bruins came on strong while the Flames were left on the defensive just trying to hang on. David Krejci would notch the equalizer for Boston on the power play, and just 98 seconds later Reilly Smith netted the game-winner on a solid individual effort with 4:33 remaining. The Bruins would hang on for the 2-1 victory.
Iginla had over 21 minutes of ice time and had some scoring chances including putting one off the post. He was named the game’s third star and was prompted by his teammates to take a couple of laps around the ice to take in further adoration from his fans.
While the Flames fell to 11-15-4 with the disappointing loss, it was one of those rare occasions where the end result didn’t seem to matter much to the fans in attendance. While a win for the home side would have obviously been nice, it was a special night for Calgary fans to say a big thank you and show their tremendous appreciation for one of the organization’s greatest players and ambassadors.
Rick LaFitte is an NHL Writer for Rant Sports