Memorable Moments: Iginla's Return to Calgary

Tuesday, 06.10.2014 / 2:46 PM
Caryn Switaj  - BostonBruins.com

Over the course of the next week, BostonBruins.com will be taking a look back at some of the most memorable moments of the 2013-14 season. Make sure to follow along on the Bruins Blog.

BostonBruins.com - "IGG-Y, IGG-Y, IGG-Y." At first, the chant started low.

The Bruins had just hit the ice for warmups at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary. They weren't led out by starting goaltender Tuukka Rask as usual, but rather, Jarome Iginla.

The chant came back when Iginla lined up alongside David Krejci on the blueline pregame. And then again before puck drop.

December 10, 2013 was just another ordinary day for many - but not for Iginla.

On this December night, the future Hall of Famer and longtime Flames captain played in Calgary for the first time since he was traded in 2013. His homecoming to the Saddledome was a highlight of the 2013-14 season for not only the Bruin, but also his teammates, the Calgary faithful, and hockey fans overall.

Every fan could appreciate what happened that night, and it was a privilege to witness, from start to finish.

The buzz began from the very moment "Iggy" arrived in Calgary, descended from the plane, and was then greeted at the arena with a storm of video cameras and reporters documenting his every move.

The next night, the "IGG-Y" chants were in full effect, with Calgary welcoming back its former captain of nine seasons who had worn the "Flaming C" for 16 years.

A touching pregame video tribute spanned Iginla's career with the Flames, highlighting his milestones and special moments on and off the ice.

Iginla watched the video from the ice next to the Bruins' bench, with a spotlight directly on him.

"It was definitely emotional," he would say after the game. "You think back just trying to make the NHL and you kind of reflect on all the years of being able to play for a great organization here in Calgary and all the fun I’ve had so far in my career."

"I feel very fortunate and blessed and the guys on that team were great and made it even more special for me."

The spotlight would stay on Iginla all night. When he touched the puck, the fans would cheer and chant, despite him being the opponent.

In the third period, the Bruins trailed 1-0. Two tallies 1:38 apart from Krejci and Reilly Smith gave them the 2-1 lead for the eventual win.

In the last minute, something remarkable happened in the arena. The fans wanted one last salute for their former captain - for him to set off the goal siren. With the Flames putting out an extra attacker, the crowd actually started serenading Iginla to get the empty-netter.

He nearly gave them their wish. (Maybe he was just saving it up - two nights later, he would score twice in the Bruins' win over the Oilers in his hometown of Edmonton in front of family and friends).

It didn't matter though. The crowd had already gotten their money's worth.

After a postgame celebration that included some stronger than usual taps on Iginla's helmet from the Bruins, the former Flame was announced as the No. 3 Star in-arena.

As he hopped on the ice to give a wave to the crowd, Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara and the rest of Iginla's teammates coxed the humble veteran back onto the ice for a victory lap.

"I just heard the guys saying, ‘Let’s everybody come out back on the ice'," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien recounted after the game.

Iginla eventually obliged, flashing a smile of pure joy as he waved to the crowd and skated along the boards.

But one lap wasn't enough.

Chara sent him back out there to continue the moment, with the fans' roaring cheers raining down, and the bright spotlight following him - just him - around the ice.

"Honestly, coming back, you remember and part of you just is like, you’re looking forward to it, but then you just want to get through it," Iginla reflected postgame, on his emotions coming into the night, not knowing what to expect. "I didn’t have a lot of feelings of just trying to get through it; I really enjoyed it all."

Iginla took in every second of the night, along with his parents, family and friends, with the Calgary and Bruins' fans in the arena, and with all hockey fans tuned in around the world.

"I think everybody understands how special this is for the city, the organization of the Flames and for Jarome," said Julien. "I think it’s important what he’s done for this city, for this organization."

"It is special for him, I know that. We’re actually pretty proud to be the team that comes back with him and watch this."

The effect was felt on both sides of the ice.

"I think if you really look at it, there’s not many players in the modern era that have meant so much to the franchise and to a place to a city as Jarome did, and the way that he connected with the people of Calgary," said Iginla's former teammate Mike Cammalleri.

Iginla hadn't really known what to expect with the homecoming, and the amount of attention surrounding him. He didn't want it to be distracting for his teammates.

"Hopefully it’s a great memory, as far as being a good night for us as a team too," he had said in anticipation of the game, making sure to keep the Black & Gold in mind.

It turned out to be an incredible night - for both "Iggy," and the team.

"It was just a fun night to be a part of," Johnny Boychuk recounted. "He was such a key part to their organization and the fans just love him there, and he deserved everything that he got."

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