A lesser known fact about the Calgary Flames’ Jarome Iginla, who scored the 500th goal of his NHL career Saturday night to become only the 42nd player in history to do so: Iginla has every single one of those goals in an ever-changing video library at home, from the days of VHS to DVD, which pretty much spans his 15-year career.
For Iginla, having a video record was partly meant to act as a keepsake and partly as a coaching tool, so that whenever he hit the cold patches that every scorer does, he could refer back to the good days and discover what, if anything, he was doing differently.
Iginla achieved the 500-goal milestone in Saturday’s 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild, tying him with Flames legend Lanny McDonald for 41st on the all-time goals list, with yet another famous Flames right winger, Joey Mullen, next in his sights at 502.
It was a significant game on several levels. First, it helped erase the memory of a 9-0 shellacking to the Boston Bruins at the tail end of their seven-game, world-junior inspired road trip. More important, Iginla’s goal finished as the game winner, the 80th of his career, and with Jaromir Jagr as the all-time leader at 113, and Iginla just 34, there is a chance he could finish his playing career as the No. 1 game-winning goal scorer of all time.
Iginla’s parents were down from Edmonton to witness the game and that is a significant piece of news when people ponder his future in Calgary. There is a growing sentiment in town that the Flames are at a point where they will continue to be just good enough to miss the playoffs every year, without challenging for the Stanley Cup.
If so, and since they are one of the oldest teams in the league, wouldn’t it make sense to trade Iginla for younger talent now?
Of course, this line of thinking presupposes that Iginla wants to move and he clearly does not. He resolutely believes that the current incarnation of the Flames is a playoff team and once playoffs start, anything is possible.
That was the lesson of 2004, when Calgary made it to within a game of the Stanley Cup championship, losing in seven to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the closest Iginla has come to winning a title professionally (he has two Olympic and one world-junior gold on his résumé). Iginla likes it in Calgary. It is handy for both personal and professional reasons to be playing 300 kilometres south of his hometown of Edmonton, and because he has a no-trade clause in his contract, until something changes in terms of his mindset, he isn’t moving anywhere.
Iginla’s contract expires in the summer of 2013, so 14 months from now, at next year’s trade deadline, he will arrive at a new career crossroads and then likely will be asked to reassess his future.
Of the 42 players to score 500 goals, only 15 managed the first 500 with the same team: Jean Béliveau, Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Hull, Gordie Howe, Guy Lafleur, Mario Lemieux, Stan Mikita, Mike Modano, Gilbert Perreault, Maurice Richard, Joe Sakic, Bryan Trottier and Steve Yzerman.
It’s funny how nobody ever asked Béliveau at the end of his career, or Lemieux or Richard or Sakic or Yzerman, why they didn’t want to move on to greener pastures when the fortunes of their current teams fell on hard times. It must be a sign of these mercenary times – that the motives of someone who demonstrates loyalty and commitment to an organization are questioned, not applauded. Strange how priorities can be misplaced.