fter last week's craziness surrounding the Todd Bertuzzi-Steve Moore incident, now seems like a good time to change gears and focus on one of the best all-around players in the game, Jarome Iginla.
Iginla doesn't get as much recognition as he should, and he epitomizes what the game is all about. He serves as the perfect role model for fans of every ilk -- from the die-hard to the uninitiated.
Whether you are watching Iginla play hockey or listening to him talk about it, you sense both his passion and respect for the game. He speaks eloquently, with an easy-going and engaging demeanor -- traits that make him the perfect spokesman for the game. We don't hear enough from Iginla, though, because he doesn't crave the limelight.
That understated approach applies to Jarome Iginla the player, as well -- nothing flashy and all substance. He plays a hard and honest brand of hockey, delivering checks, battling in the corners, moving up and down his wing, ripping slap shots in full flight on offense and backchecking with purpose on defense. It isn't quite understated, but it certainly isn't flashy.
All of which sounds reminiscent of power forwards of yesteryear, which is an apt description of Iginla -- in a good way. He is a skilled player who doesn't shy away from the physical side of things -- the blend of grace and grit that the NHL puts forth at its best. And by the looks of things, Iginla is playing with more determination than ever.
With 36 goals, he is only one goal off the league lead shared by young lions Ilya Kovalchuk and Rick Nash. Iginla won the Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL's top goal scorer in 2001-02, along with the Art Ross Trophy and the Lester B. Pearson Award as the players' MVP. Iginla has already set a career high for penalty minutes this season, showing a willingness to protect both himself and his teammates when things get squirrelly.
Yet, by and large, instead of holding Iginla up as a shining example of what the NHL is all about, he is too often dismissed -- or at least taken for granted. He followed up that breakthrough season with a 35-goal effort, while leading the Flames in scoring. Still, many talked about the dropoff from his 52 goals of '01-'02 rather than recognizing Iginla's '02-'03 output as being on par with that throughout his career -- one so far defined by consistency and durability.
Unfortunately, also defining Iginla's tenure in Calgary is seven consecutive playoff misses. It is easy to forget that Iginla's career with the Flames actually began in the postseason of 1996 with two appearances as an 18-year-old.
After coming over from the Dallas Stars for Joe Nieuwendyk, Iginla capped off his 1995-96 season -- one in which he won the WHL player of the year award with the Kamloops Blazers -- with one goal and one assist in those two postseason games for Calgary. Those were Iginla's first two games as a pro -- and the last two playoff games for the franchise.
With Iginla and the Flames seemingly headed for playoff hockey -- that crystallizing prism through which all players view themselves and their peers -- a little springtime success will go a long way in enhancing his image, one that will certainly become higher profile.
Good article. Very true, Iginla is very underrated IMO. It's hard to say that about someone who does get quite a bit of recognition but I don't think he gets enough for how good he is.
I wouldn't trade Iginla straight up for anyone in the NHL. If I were Sutter of course.
I may be biased about Iggy as i see him more then most but while there are a few players with parts of their game that may be better it would be hard pressed to find a total package better then Iginla,an all around player like him is VERY VERY rare and i wouldn't trade him for ANY player right now!
The only one would be a 4 year younger Sakic << love this guys game