Jarome Iginla, sources say, has agreed to a wave goodbye and a list – a waive of the no-movement clause in his contract and a list of NHL teams he is willing to be traded to should the Calgary Flames partake in a deal.
And yet even in the face of multiple reports on Sunday, there is no assurance the 35-year-old captain will be wearing new NHL colours for the first time in his long and illustrious career. In fact, it’s plausible the Flames do nothing with Iginla before or at the April 3 trade deadline, which would make their next decision date July 1 and the start of free agency.
Here’s where things presently sit: as the Flames flounder near the bottom of the Western Conference, Iginla is believed to have acknowledged his team isn’t going to challenge for the Stanley Cup anytime soon and agreed to be traded. The condition is he can only be moved to one of four organizations – the Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings and Pittsburgh Penguins, all contending teams.
Right off the hop, the list was adjusted when the Penguins listened to what the Flames wanted in exchange for Iginla then promptly made a deal with the Dallas Stars for veteran forward Brenden Morrow. To get Morrow and a third-round pick, Pittsburgh surrendered young defenceman Joe Morrow and a fifth-round pick. Joe Morrow was the 23rd overall selection in the 2011 NHL entry draft; Brenden Morrow is no longer a top-line player but won’t have to be with the Penguins.
According to Pittsburgh media reports, the Flames were willing to trade Iginla providing their return was a top-four defence prospect, a draft pick and a player off the team’s roster. The Penguins balked and went Morrow a Morrow, knowing the Bruins were also talking to Dallas about its 34-year-old captain.
The Bruins then spoke with Calgary general manager Jay Feaster about Iginla and came away without a deal.
The Flames, especially their owners, have always been leery to move Iginla, They see him as the face of an otherwise faceless franchise, the man who moves merchandise and sells tickets. But even with Iginla and others such as goalie Miikka Kiprusoff and defenceman Jay Bouwmeester, the Flames have been unable to reach the playoffs, let alone recapture the magic of their 2004 run to the seventh game of the Stanley Cup final.
Clearly, the time has come – some will argue long overdue – for the Flames to trade Iginla and bring in a younger prospect, which would mirror how Iginla was brought to Calgary in exchange for centre Joe Nieuwendyk. At the very least, it would signal the beginning of a new era.
Unless they get a sweetheart of a trade, it looks as if the Flames are more willing to go to the free-agent route with their captain. That would allow them the option of re-signing him for less than the $7-million (U.S.) he earned this season (pro-rated) or saying it was the captain’s choice to leave for a better situation.
The Flames play the Blackhawks in Chicago on Tuesday while Kings head coach Darryl Sutter has always been a supporter of Iginla’s play.