Last night, I went to bed knowing that Jarome Iginla would be a Boston Bruin when I woke up. It was pretty much a done deal, with TSN announcing the names of the two prospects, since forgotten, that Boston would be sending Calgary’s way, as well as a conditional first-round pick—if he re-signed with the club in the off-season. Suffice to say I was somewhat surprised to see a picture of Captain Calgary affixed beneath a Pittsburgh Penguins logo when I walked past a TV screen a couple hours ago. It turns out the Pens’ first-round pick wasn’t conditional, so I suppose that sweetened the pot.
But there are definitely some mixed feelings after the face of the Flames franchise fled town before free-agency. Of course, it had become quite obvious that the team would need to trade him in order to get something in return, rather than risk re-signing a soon-to-be 36-year-old. And just as dealing Joe Nieuwendyk to Dallas netted Iggy in the first place, the hope is that either Kenneth Agostino or Ben Hanowski, a pair of US college boys, will provide the same scoring punch. Cuz you know that first-round pick is gonna be squandered. Who’s the last Flames first-rounder to make a big impact? Probably Dion Phaneuf. Where does he play now? I don’t wanna talk about it…
Still, it might be a stretch to say that Agostino (37 points in 32 games for Yale) or Hanowski (29 points in 34 games for St. Cloud State) will be able to almost single-handedly carry the team for 15 seasons the way that Iginla has. If nothing else, it makes me cringe that Calgary’s next top-scorer could possibly be American. Here’s hoping neither player happens to pay a visit to his alma matter on “Bring a Gun to School Day” or anything… OK, I must digress. But suffice to say that the NHL is a huge step up from the NCAA, and these two were fifth- and third-round picks, respectively. Now, if they had been picked in the middle rounds by the Red Wings, I might have more confidence in them, but the Pens built their franchise with first and second-overall picks (I don’t really need to name them, do I?), not in the late rounds of the draft.
And you can’t expect some college boy to replace the World’s Greatest Edmontonian, who took the torch from the flailing hands of Theo Fleury and tallied no fewer than 28 goals a season from 1998 onwards. This is a guy who, despite not having an offensively gifted centreman since Marc Savard was shipped to Atlanta for an oversized Russian pylon who preferred to divert traffic in Magnitogorsk, won the Art Ross, the Lester B. Pearson and the Rocket Richard trophy, the latter on two separate occasion. With just a little help from Martin Gelinas and Miikka Kiprusoff, my favourite black person on the face of the earth (Ice Muthafuckin’ T is number two with a bullet) nearly brought home the Cup in ’04, and man, I would’ve driven up to Edmonton just to see him parade it around his old neighbourhood in his flaming C. (But alas, twas not to be. Don’t get me started on “Hockey Bay USA,” either…)
As a matter of fact, last night I cried tears I hadn’t cried since Theo Fleury became an Avalanche, Bret Hart got screwed at Survivor Series, or Doug Flutie was sold to Toronto, of all places. So this is farewell, my sweet Afro-Canadian prince. Check Phaneuf into the boards for me, eh?