After failing to latch on with a team last season, NHL legend Jarome Iginla will formally retire in a ceremony in Calgary on July 30. The decision makes Iginla perhaps the game’s greatest player to retire without having won a Stanley Cup.
But it certainly wasn’t for a lack of trying on the part of Iginla.
Fiercely devoted to the Calgary Flames organization, Iginla’s departure from the franchise he captained came with a near-move to the Bruins in 2013. But feeling that his chances to win a Stanley Cup were greater with the Penguins, Iginla ultimately nixed a move to Boston (the Bruins were sending Alex Khokhlachev, Matt Bartkowski, and a first-round pick to the Flames in the proposed deal), and forced Calgary to take a lesser offer from the Penguins.
This would come back to bite Iginla, though, as he first proved to be a suboptimal fit with Sidney Crosby and was later swept out of the postseason by the B’s in the Eastern Conference Finals. Determined to join a contender, Iginla tried to make nice with the Black and Gold of Boston when he approached them that summer about a potential deal.
Signed to a one-year, bonus-laden contract, Iginla was a fantastic fit with David Krejci and Milan Lucic in a Presidents’ Trophy-winning 2013-14 season in Boston, with 30 goals and 61 points in 78 games played. Iginla also added a Bruins-best five goals in 12 postseason games with the B’s that spring, which ended with a Game 7 loss to the Canadiens in round two.
The Bruins and Iginla had mutual interest in extending their relationship, too.
But Iginla’s bonuses ate up a majority of Boston’s cap space, and the Bruins were unable to work out a similar, bonus-heavy contract due to the fact that Iginla was seeking a multi-year contract on his new deal. (The National Hockey League doesn’t let you give out those kind of performance bonuses on anything besides a one-year contract.) So he left for the Avalanche.
Iginla never got any closer to the Stanley Cup during his two and a half seasons with the Avalanche, and effectively ended his NHL career on a close-but-not-enough 19-game regular-season run with the Los Angeles Kings in 2017.
Undergoing hip surgery last summer and still with hopes of a potential return to the NHL, Iginla worked out on his own and even joined the Providence Bruins for some practices late last season. But with the 41-year-old unable to get in any game action — be it in the minors or for Team Canada at the NHL-less 2018 Olympics — Iginla sat out the full season.
Had he been able to play in some sort of game, the Bruins likely would have given Iginla consideration for a roster spot that ultimately went to Brian Gionta, signed after his run with Team USA at the Olympics, for Boston’s stretch run. (Gionta would record two goals and seven points in 20 games for the Bruins, and even got in the lineup for one postseason tilt.)
Iginla retires with the 15th-most goals (625) and 34th-most points (1,300) in NHL history.