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The second anniversary of the Jarome Iginla Trade (as it is known in these parts) is coming up this Saturday, and it seems as if a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then, for both Iginla and his former team, the Calgary Flames.

After spending the first 17 seasons of his NHL career in Calgary, Iginla has since gone on to play for three different teams – the Boston Bruins, Pittsburgh Penguins and, now, Colorado Avalanche. The intervening time has flown by, Iginla said after Monday's morning skate at the Scotiabank Saddledome, but it also feels like ages since he suited up as a Flame.

Last summer, on the day he turned 37, Iginla signed with a Colorado team that managed a stunning 112 points and won the Central Division title a year ago. Flush with young talent and solid in goal, the Avs determined the missing ingredient to replace departing free agent Paul Stastny might be a veteran leader such as Iginla who could still get the job done on the ice.

There was never a guarantee that the Avalanche would duplicate last year's surprise performance, but internally, team officials believed the Avs could make the playoffs and build on that breakthrough season.

Instead, they haven't quite followed that script. The Avs are playing better now, having gone 6-1-1 in the eight games heading into Monday night's contest against the Flames. But that still left them eight points behind the Winnipeg Jets in the race for the final wild-card playoff spot in the Western Conference.

With fewer than three weeks to go in the regular season, Iginla is in a familiar position. He spent the latter part of his Calgary career chasing down playoff spots in the final days of each season. In Denver, he has done his part: After the usual slow start (in 19 of his first 20 games, Iginla failed to score a goal), he found his stride and now leads the team in both goals (24) and points (50).

Overall, his legacy is cemented. In addition to starring on two Olympic gold-medal-winning teams, Iginla has won a case full of trophies – an Art Ross, two Rocket Richards, a King Clancy and the Mark Messier leadership award.

What he hasn't won is a Stanley Cup, though he of course came achingly close when Calgary pushed Tampa Bay to Game 7 in the 2004 Cup final. More recent playoff runs fell short in Pittsburgh two years ago and Boston last year. Finding the right landing place as a free agent, in what he hopes is his final NHL stop, was critical to Iginla for personal and professional reasons.

"It's hard to pick, especially now with how the cap works," Iginla said. "If you try to predict what the final four are going to be, maybe you can do it, but for me, it's hard to tell. They're all so close. There are no teams you play now where you feel they're so much ahead of you – and that wasn't always the case.

"Right now, we're playing some good hockey and getting better and we're missing some impact players [Erik Johnson, Nathan MacKinnon]. That should – and I believe will – only get better. So absolutely, it was more than just about this year. It was about being part of a team that's trending positively in the right way. And even though we had a step back in the beginning, overall, we're going to keep getting better and better."

Every time Iginla returns to Calgary, it gets a little easier for him, he said. His family is enjoying life in Denver, from his three kids' schools to their minor hockey. He sees a lot of similarities to Calgary – "a lot going on, but not too busy. Maybe a little warmer.

"But honestly," he continued, "it's been a great adventure, a lot of fun – being able to be in the conference final there a couple of years ago with Pitt, then last year, we had a really good year in Boston and were able to play a best-of-seven against Montreal. I wish it had gone a different way, but it was a really cool experience to be part of. You never know what to expect, but it's been great."

Iginla scored 30 goals last season with the Bruins, and needs six in Colorado's final 11 games to get there again this season. He has scored 30 or more in every full season since 1999-2000, when he scored 29. He has moved from 24th to 19th on the all-time goal-scoring list this past season, overtaking Guy Lafleur, Mats Sundin, Joe Nieuwendyk (for whom he was once traded), Mike Bossy and Mark Recchi.

All three of his post-Calgary stops have been in established hockey markets, but playing outside of Canada, on a team where he isn't the face of the franchise, allows Iginla to go his own way a little more.

"There's a little less scrutiny, for sure, but there's still pressure," he said. "I still put pressure on myself to produce and don't expect less. That part isn't different. But the scrutiny away from the rink, not being in Canada, is a little different. All the Canadian markets have more coverage. You just kind of take it in and enjoy what you have. I've enjoyed every place I've played in all the different years."

It doesn't seem so long ago that Iginla was a fresh-faced rookie. Now, he is an elder statesman, and on Monday he recalled how he used to tease his friend and former teammate, Craig Conroy, when he had that status. Conroy didn't always take it well.

"I used to say to him, 'Man, you want to be the oldest one,'" said Iginla, smiling that big trademark smile. "'That's a good thing.'"

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