Jarome Iginla the biggest loser in Penguins loss to Bruins
Penguins forward Jarome Iginla checks Bruins defenceman Johnny Boychuk during Game 4 of the NHL Eastern Conference final at TD Garden in Boston, June 7, 2013. (JESSICA RINALDI/Reuters)
As the Boston Bruins were celebrating their second trip to the Stanley Cup final in three years, Jarome Iginla was stripping off his No. 12 jersey for the last time with the Pittsburgh Penguins team he chose to join before the NHL trade deadline.
Given the right to take Steeltown over Beantown thanks to the no-trade clause in his contract, the veteran winger told the Calgary Flames he felt he had a better chance to win the Cup with the Penguins and left the jilted Bruins at the alter.
In the end, Iginla came out a big-time loser. To make matters worse the winning shot by Adam McQuaid in the third period appeared to bounce off Iginla’s stick before it beat goalie Tomas Vokoun in Friday’s 1-0 victory for the Bruins.
Iginla tried to put up a brave face.
“I’m very fortunate to get the chance to come to (Pittsburgh) and you want this opportunity,” said Iginla, who becomes an unrestricted free agent July 5 and will have to live with his decision to join the ill-fated Penguins for the rest of his career.
“You want an opportunity to be in the conference finals and have a chance to win and we had that chance.
“The Bruins played very well, they’re a very good team. I was fortunate to have that choice and when you make it you definitely believe in the guys here and we played some great hockey up until this last series.”
Iginla said it hurt more that he didn’t perform up expectations in the Eastern Conference final. He was hardly noticeable, looked like he was having a tough time keeping up and certainly didn’t give the Penguins what they bargained for when they made the deal. He'll get a job on the free agent market, but his stock certainly didn't go up.
“I don’t know what the answer is but I didn’t get anything going for the group,” he said. “It stings not playing well in this last series. These four games I just didn’t play very well.
“That’s when you want to play your best for the team and you want to find ways to contribute and be part of those close games and help go the other way.”
Boston winger Milan Lucic felt Iginla’s decision gave his club additional motivation to beat the Penguins.
“First off, he’s a great player. He’s a legend,” said Lucic. “He’s a future Hall of Famer and I think looking back at that day he earned the right to make the decision he made. You can never blame a guy for going with his heart and making that type of decision. I’m not going to insult him in any way.
“He’s a guy that I always looked up to as a teenager and seeing the way he played. As a Canadian, seeing what he did in the Olympics and all that type of stuff, he’s definitely an idol of mine. I’m sure if he could go back he would make a different decision, but in saying that he’s still a great player.”
Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma said Iginla wasn’t alone in his struggles. In fact, he had plenty of company.
“I don’t think there’s a player in there that’s going to feel that they didn’t struggle at a certain part of our game, with the looks at the net, scoring opportunities,” said Bylsma.
“Evgeni Malkin shot the puck over and over and over again, had great scoring chances. He’s going to have felt he missed an opportunity and didn’t get the goals we needed, five-on-five or the power play. You can say that about Jarome, you can say that about a lot of guys on our team, the missed opportunity that we left out there.”
If Iginla watches the Stanley Cup final, he’ll only be able to wonder what could have been.