I know it’s been a while. I don’t know if you noticed, but there hasn’t been much hockey played by your Calgary Flames lately. Some sort of work stoppage, I’m told. Don’t really know what that’s about, but it’s made for some real slow going ’round these parts. Also, Wilson’s a content slave driver over at FlamesNation, so I’ve admittedly spread my crap a little thin going back and forth between two blogs (three if you count that one thing I did for Matchsticks that no one read that one time!), and my solo project here at the Book of Loob has taken a back seat.
It’s kind of been done on purpose. For you see, this here post is officially post #100 in the illustrious history of the Book of Loob, and I didn’t want to just go and blow my content load on any ol’ topic. OOH, Jiri Hudler is still injured. Matt Stajan almost did something in Latvia or something.
No, that’s not for me. That’s not for US.
So now, I do have a worthy topic, albeit a very potentially bittersweet one. Consider it a tribute to one mister Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Jun…okay, we all know by now, Iginla’s full name is straight up bonkers. His name is a half marathon.
But he’s also been incredibly awesome, on and off the ice, representing the Flames for the better part of 16 seasons, and it’s a fucking atrocity that a man this classy and prolific is now waiting out his second lockout, robbing him of some extra cement on what is already a surefire Hall of Fame career. (Seriously, he missed a whole season in his prime! He could be scoring his 600th goal this year. Fuck, it makes me mad)
I of course mention all this because there’s that whole thing about how the season this year is likely to be cancelled en toute, and that is tragic, infuriating, grim, foreboding, and all around shitty. And if you’re like me, well Christ you’re awesome, but you’re also cynically struggling with the reality that there is not even going to be a shortened season, but an entire A-Bomb of a wiped out season.
And if you’ve done the math, you’re now fully aware that Mr. Iginla is going to be one of those fancy Unrestricted Free Agents at the outset of this ghastly ordeal. What that means, at this point, is wholly uncertain, but we have to entertain the notion that we’ve seen our hero play his last game in Calgary Red.
The one absolute truth is, come the 2013-14 season, Iginla will not be making $7 million dollars a year playing for your Calgary Flames. He may still indeed be a Flame, it will just be at a massively reduced price. Alternatively, he will be playing for maybe $5 million or something for a contending team looking for some veteran depth with some oomph; a Pittsburgh, or a Boston, or, and this isn’t even that crazy of an impossibility the way things have been going lately, possibly a Toronto Blue Jay.
We all know my preferred plan. I think Jarome Iginla is the raddest fucking dude on the planet this side of Blair Jones, and I want him as a Flame for life. Going forward, I’d like to see him in a reduced offensive role, and being monetarily compensated appropriately for it, while a team of young Bartschis and Brodies and oh fuck it let’s get our wishful thinking pants on and say MacKinnons that are emerging as a decent group of intrepid hockey players lean on a still effective Jarome for advice and inspiration.
But there’s a good to great possibility that’s not going to be the place, and we see Iggy raising the Cup with a different jersey on, and we all pretend we’re happy about it, Bruins fans for Ray Bourque style, but secretly we’re all fragile and messy on the inside, Bruins fans for Ray Bourque style. And with that in mind, I think it’s fitting to have a tribute for Iginla, as his mark on this team and the game they play are irreplaceable and worth celebrating.
We all know the numbers. 516 goals. 1073 points. Flames all time leading goal scorer, points tallier, games played in maven. A man who has scored 30 or more goals in 11 straight seasons (and came within 3 goals of making that total 13 seasons, by the by)
But it’s not the numbers that make Iginla great. Those are purely complementary. Jarome’s body of work is worth way more than that. Iginla has defined a legacy for himself while rocking the Flaming C, and that legacy is eternally important to the franchise and the fans who still swear by it. I’m going to try and define some of it: the characteristics and the actions that make him an icon, and the little foibly things that make us love him. It just so happens that this day, the 19th of December, marks the 17th anniversary of that fateful day when Joe Nieuwendyk (that slut), left town and sent Jarome in to be our main squeeze, so this is doubly appropriate to write about right now. So with that in mind, strap in, friends, let’s go for a ride.
I remember a week or two ago, TSN, in the midst of this lockout lunacy and cashing in on a nation’s pastime and it’s ever un-slaked thirst for it, re-aired the Gold Medal Game from the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and the conversation on the Twitter turned over to Joe Sakic, who was, of course, straight beastin’ in that deciding game against the Americans. The question posited was “has there ever been anyone in the game that was just impossible to hate, no matter who you cheer for, more than Joe Sakic?”
Which is a clunky question, but only because that’s the way in which I, oaf that I am, chose to re-word it. But you get the gist. The answer was basically yes, but with the caveat that you also have to include, obviously, Steve Yzerman, and one Jarome Iginla.
To me, this is about as high a compliment as you can receive. First of all, to have such an illustrious career that Iginla has while carrying himself with a both engaging and humble professionalism to the point where it’s impossible not to admire the guy is outstanding. But to be mentioned in the same breath as two of the most revered and beloved superstars and ambassadors the game has ever seen in Sakic and Yzerman is unconditionally the highest honour. Not even Gretzky can claim this truth as his own (though anyone out there who has any kind of hate on for The Great One is truly a world class idiot as far as I’m concerned)
It’s who the man is. A world class hockey player who never publicly slammed anyone, disrespected the players or the game, and seemed to have genuine respect for the fans and the city and anyone else he encountered in his career. It’s a rare thing. And he is/was ours.
The Forehead Crease
I mean holy hell, as if that’s not where all his power comes from.
The crease in Iggy’s forehead is one of those little things that just endears Jarome to us so much. It’s a sign of deep concentration, focus, and excess skin. A lifetime of wearing a hockey helmet has never been able to dampen it’s spirit, and that makes it as dominant as Iginla has been.
There’s a Facebook group dedicated to it, which I’m not a part of and neither are you, but it still exists, okay? They even have it on the statue of Iggy that is/was in FlamesCentral (has anyone been there lately? Are the statues still there? And if not, where the fuck are they anyway?)
Straight up, Jarome Iginla murders pucks. As far as Iginla and the offense he brings, it usually comes down to the shot. He was never a dangler. He has speed, but in the same way that a lot of guys have speed, it’s not that overwhelming. What he does have is a nose for the net and a hard. accurate shot. Composite sticks were invented with Jarome Iginla in mind. Look at that shit arc, son!
I remember the game where Jarome finally notched his 500th career goal. We all remember it. It wasn’t exactly pretty, but no one cared. What really strikes me though is how close he came earlier in the same period to scratching the milestone off his career bucket list. Someone had coughed up the puck in the Minnesota zone in a manner that allowed a forechecking Iginla to step in and launch a clapper without breaking stride. It was the perfect Iggy slapper. The form was perfect, it was off his stick immediately, and the goalie couldn’t do a damn thing about it except watch it rocket past him and *PING*, off the crossbar. My word, I don’t know how there wasn’t a three inch dent on the top pipe, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a puck hit that hard in my entire life. Nik Backstrom is lucky to be alive.
I couldn’t help but think that it would have been really fitting had that shot been two inches lower. His 500th goal scored on his most Iginla play ever.
Some kinda shot by the Captain /Loubardias’d
Don’t make him angry. You wouldn’t like him angry.
The best players that have long left their legacy in this game and truly define what hockey is, they all had that special something, that extra mile that they could turn on that made them amongst the game’s elite. Tales were told, legends spun, stories passed down from generation to generation. Rocket Richard was rumoured to have scored a goal while carrying Bill Juzda on his back from the blue line in. Glenn Hall used to puke in the dressing room bathroom before every game. The great players just had something.
For Iginla, it was rage.
Over the years, opposing players have somehow never learned how it’s a mistake to take a jab at Iginla in a scrum, or to take a cheap shot on him when he’s not looking. It’s proven to be a fatal mistake time and time again. It’s hockey’s most Jekyll and Hyde-ey story ever, and for a while it was so uncanny that I wondered why the Flames wouldn’t just hire some unlucky bastard in a full caged helmet to just wait outside the dressing room and sucker punch Iggy in the face every time he sojourned out to the ice. I mean motivation is the key, right?
I just love the mythical powers behind it. Here we have what is probably the nicest dude in all of hockey, but when you get his hackles up, he’s a bull in a China Shop who can carry his team on his back. It’s what legends are made of.
The Commercials Were Actually Pretty Funny
With stardom comes the obligations to be a public face beyond just what your job description implies, and that often means commercials/appearances/public events, and our little boy has grown into a husky man who was born to be in front of a camera. Don’t you kinda want to see Jarome read you the 6 o’clock news just once?
Just me? I doubt it.
The Power Forward-Ness
Wikipedia describes a power forward as a “characterization of a forward who is big and strong, equally capable of playing physically or scoring goals and would most likely have high totals in both points and penalties. It is usually used in reference to a forward who is physically large, with the toughness to dig the puck out of the corners, possesses offensive instincts, has mobility, puck-handling skillsmaybe difficult to knock off the puck and willingly engage in fights when he feels it’s required. Possessing both physical size and offensive ability, power forwards are also often referred to as the ‘complete’ hockey player“
Which, I mean obviously all of you already fucking knew, but hey, it’s a decent definition nonetheless.
In short, a power forward is Jarome Iginla. For Christ sake, when you look at the Wikipedia page for power forwards, there is literally a picture of Jarome Iginla on the page.
Whether it’s unleashing his trademark clapper or KO’ing Willie Mitchell or whoever, Jarome has been the quintessential power forward in Calgary since Gary Roberts left town and started showing everyone how to eat like a champion. Whatever it takes to win (short of backchecking these days), Jarome has done and will do it.
If it means scoring a big goal, Jarome’s stick had the answer. If it meant Sheldon Souray breaking his hand on Iginla’s skull, Jarome would ask “HOW broken?” If it meant yelling at Rich Preston behind what was supposed to be closed doors because Preston was a dim-witted chode, hey, Iggy was all over that one too.
Whoever made this video does a pretty good job of selling this whole concept:
Because When He Had Hair
It was awesome:
Because Sometimes He Can Still Surprise You:
And So On
Okay, obviously we could talk ad nauseum about this, but we’re already over 2200 words and I know if you had to choose between me and my thoughts and opinions, versus just STRAIGHT STUNNED SILENCE, everyone’s voting the latter as if my last name is Romney.
Also quite frankly, the more I write this, the more morose I become at the presentiment expressed here that says we may never see Jarome do this stuff in a Flames jersey ever again.
So we’ll just leave it at that and reiterate just exactly what Jarome is. He’s a Calgary Flame. He’s the penultimate face of a franchise that has had so many faces of the franchise. He’s a nice guy. He’s a tough guy. He’s a goal scorer. A leader. An Olympian. A musclebound freak. A Scotiabanker. A friend of Conroy. A Calgary icon.
So in closing, I’ll just go ahead and leave you with what might be the best thing about Iginla that’s ever happened to any of us, and it’s this:
Awesome. Thanks Iggy.
Posted in Hlushko Hodgepodge |