Let’s face it, if there’s one list no player wants to be on, it’s being one of the “greatest to never win it all.” It means you’re potentially a Hall of Famer, you accomplished so many things in your long and decorated career, but you don’t have the championship ring that ices the cake.
As it stands, Jarome Iginla is one of the bigger names on this list. The 37-year-old winger has had an NHL career that just about guarantees his spot in the Hall of Fame. He’s one of the most respected players in the entire league, has been an all-star multiple times and has won both the Art Ross and Rocket Richard trophies in his 17 year career. However, he has yet to hoist a Stanley Cup, the one trophy every player in the league is vying for.
He certainly looked like he had a shot last year as a member of the President’s Trophy-winning Boston Bruins, however they were bounced in the second round of the postseason, leaving Iginla without a Cup ring yet again. Last week, he signed a three-year deal with a young Colorado Avalanche team, one he thinks can finally end his Cup drought.
“With this group, I think the sky is the limit,” Iginla said. “When I think of some of the teams that have had success in the NHL in the last five or six years, I think of [Chicago Blackhawks]; they were a very young, very talented team that moved up very quickly, that had a very talented young core when they won. [Pittsburgh Penguins] was pretty young when they won. Boston had a pretty young core when they won, too.
“I think Colorado has a lot of young guys, whether in their first year or third or fourth year or whatever, they’ve been confident and been able to play their way and just keep getting better. I’m excited to be able to come for three years and be part of that, and grow with the guys.”
If Iginla didn’t believe Colorado gave him a shot at the elusive Stanley Cup, he wouldn’t have signed with them. That said, is he right to put his faith in this young Avalanche team?
He’s right about one thing: the sky does appear to be the limit for the Avs. With exciting talent like Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Tyson Barrie, Colorado has a lot going in its favor. Add in rookie sensation Nathan MacKinnon, who showed this past postseason he may indeed be the next big thing, and you’ve got a team which could be fun to watch for the next few years. In Iginla, the aforementioned players get a mentor who hasn’t shown much of a loss in step despite his age, and who also is dying to get his name etched on the Stanley Cup. It sounds like win-win to me.
At the same time, the Avalanche also need to prove a few things to show last season’s bounce-back wasn’t a fluke. Can Semyon Varlamov duplicate the success he saw in net this year, in which he posted a career-best .927 save percentage? Can Patrick Roy carry over the triumph of turning Colorado around so drastically in his first season as an NHL coach? The Avalanche’s possession numbers from last season lead many to pause on making assumptions the team can have another successful season. Do they have a point?
Top this off with the fact that Colorado lost a key player in Paul Stastny during free agency and is currently in the middle of arbitration Ryan O’Reilly, and you can see there still might be some issues preventing the Avs from being seen as a legit Cup contender.
Make no mistake, though: Iginla’s addition is a big boost for the Avalanche. He’ll be a huge benefit for the youngsters to rely on, and his endorsement of this team as one who can possibly help him achieve his dream of a Stanley Cup goes a long way. After signing a three-year deal with Colorado, this may very well be Iginla’s last shot, so he better hope his hunch in the Avalanche is the right bet.