BostonBruins.com - Jarome Iginla agreed to a one-year deal with the Bruins on Friday on the opening day of free agency. Being an unrestricted free agent, the right wing chose to come here.
In fact, his agent reached out to General Manager Peter Chiarelli on Thursday to inform him that Iginla was interested in talking with the Bruins about joining their team. At the time, Chiarelli was in discussions with Daniel Alfredsson and his agent (before the former Sens captain signed with Detroit).
"But it certainly peaked my interest as Jarome was a player we tried to get at the trade deadline, as you are all aware," Chiarelli told media on a conference call with Iginla Saturday afternoon, to discuss the deal.
"My opinion of him hasn’t changed as a person or as a player. I know he’s a terrific player. He plays the type of game we’re looking for. He plays a heavy game, heavy shot, heavy forecheck. A power forward type of game and we needed a right wing with Nathan Horton leaving and Tyler Seguin being traded."
On Friday, throughout the course of the day, those discussions continued until the evening, when Chiarelli was informed that Iginla wanted to be a Bruin.
The veteran, and former Calgary Flames longstanding Captain, can play both wings, but Chiarelli has him slotted to play right wing on the Bruins' top two lines centered by Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. Iginla is most comfortable on the right side, where he'll fill out a rebuild by Chiarelli and his staff, that also includes new addition Loui Eriksson, acquired in the trade with the Dallas Stars.
Iginla's two-way play allows him to fit in well with either line, playing a shutdown, high-end minutes role with Bergeron's line, or using his shot arsenal on Krejci's line.
"My family and I are very excited to be joining the Bruins organization. I’ve only heard great things from friends who have played there. Andy Ference, [Chuck] Kobasew, [Mark] Recchi amongst many others about the city, the team and the group of players there; I love the way they play," Iginla said on the conference call.
"I know there’s going to be questions and stuff as far as choices and things like that, but they were always a team—not being in Calgary—that if I were to move I would want to play for. I know that sounds maybe a little bit different than at the deadline not going to Boston, but it was a tough decision and it wasn’t one I took lightly or easily."
"Boston and Pitt were the 2 out of 30 teams that I was down to. I definitely have respect for both of them and thrilled to be a part of the Boston organization."
"When I was debating leaving Calgary to possibly go to them [Boston] then - At the time, Pittsburgh was really—they were rolling. They are two great organizations and they [Pens] were just on a real roll. At the time, leaving at the deadline, I believed it was a great chance to win. We did make the final four."
"We would have liked to gone further - just ran into the Bruins," he added (you could hear the smile in his voice).
If Iginla liked what he had seen from the Bruins before the playoffs, he appreciated their determination in the postseason and Final just as much, if not more.
"The Bruins have a great team, great individuals. You see Patrice [Bergeron], his character and his motivation and playing through with his injuries, and Campbell. They have a lot of grit and determination."
Iginla was invigorated in the 2013 playoffs. It marked the first time he had played past the first round since 2004, when his Calgary Flames (along with Andrew Ference) were defeated by Tampa Bay in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. That renewed energy has made him a highly motivated individual, and Chiarelli took notice.
"Jarome is a Hall of Fame forward. He’s a player that we’ve coveted from before and now we’re very fortunate to have join our mix," said the Bruins' GM. "Jarome, based on talking to him, is highly motivated and wants to win. That’s our M.O."
"I know, as you get older, you have people start thinking how much is left in the tank," said Iginla, who just turned 36 on July 1. "I still feel great."
"I expect to play well. I expect to produce and be good for the Bruins and help contribute to a great regular season and be a contending team."
"The Bruins year in, year out are a very, very competitive, hard team to play against. And I think I can be a part of that and be very effective."
The forward's incentive-based, one-year contract will give him an opportunity to fit in with the Bruins and get to know the city. He could then end up playing here longer, similar to Mark Recchi. The "cap-friendly" deal, according to Chiarelli, is also similar to Recchi's.
For Iginla, his goal - as with all NHL players - is to help the Bruins win another Stanley Cup. But he also stressed the enjoyment of the "process," enjoying the battling game in, game out during the regular season, as well as in the playoffs.
"Boston has a core. They’ve been together a long time. They’ve been through so much already over the last five years and have had so much success. I look forward to coming in and learning," said the 16-season NHL veteran.
"Just playing with them and playing hard and learning from them and having fun with them. The chance to come to Boston is partly about an opportunity to win, but also to enjoy it and for my family to enjoy it. Enjoy playing [in the] NHL and being on a contending team."
And though the Bruins have a solid core and veteran leadership group with Zdeno Chara, Bergeron, Chris Kelly, Shawn Thornton, and likes of Krejci and Milan Lucic developing into such roles, Iginla will certainly bring an element of leadership to the Bruins. Especially with Ference, Horton and Rich Peverley gone.
When speaking of the team he was joining, you could hear the excitement.
"There’s so many guys - Chara, I’ve gotten a chance to get to meet him at different All-Star games and he’s good friends with Andy Ference. I’m good friends with Andy and I’ve heard a lot of great things. I’m looking forward to that opportunity. Krejci, what a playoffs he had. Young guy, he’s just getting better and better. I’m really looking forward to it."
"They’re a team that year in year out is extremely competitive," said Iginla. "They are very hard to play against. They play a physical, aggressive style - I like that."
"I’m thrilled to get the chance to join them."
"It's a strong group," said Chiarelli of his club, which will see the addition of Iginla. "And it’ll be a seamless transition into the uniform based on what I know of him and how he plays, and we'll continue to contend for a Cup."
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