Over the years there have been a lot of great players to wear the red and white of the Calgary Flames. Jarome Iginla knows, because he grew up watching them.
Who is the greatest Flame in Calgary history? Iginla, who actually grew up an Oilers fan but knew the Flames intimately thanks to the heated Battle of Alberta in the 1980s, has an answer for that:
"It's a very tough question because you have Lanny McDonald, Mike Vernon, (Al) MacInnis, (Kent) Nilsson. But to me, from having seen him growing up and having a chance to play with him, I would say Theo (Fleury) .
"I was a pretty young guy watching them, and the one guy who was always making an impact would be Theo Fleury. He was a game-breaker, but he was also causing havoc and probably one of the greatest pests of all time. He did that role was so well. I don't how many times he scored 50 (he had a 51-goal campaign in 1990-91 and 46 tallies in 1995-96), but he scored a lot of key goals for them."
Iginla may very well be right, as Fleury is the Flames all time leader in goals and points. He was a key component of the 1989 Stanley Cup championship, Calgary's only title, and was the heart and soul of the franchise in the 1990s.
But Iginla left his own name off the list of contenders for the title of best ever, a list that would not be complete without mentioning Joe Nieuwendyk and Miikka Kiprusoff. But soon, if not already, Jarome Iginla will become the undisputed greatest Flame in hockey history.
Iginla needs 3 goals to overtake Fleury as the all time leading goal scorer in franchise history. By the end of next season, health willing, he should overtake Fleury for the all time points title as well. Earlier this season he passed Al MacInnis on the all time games played list. He's contracted to Calgary for another 6 years, and he has no intention of leaving or slowing down, so he will pad his totals quite nicely in that time.
Moreover, the long time Flames captain has won a NHL scoring title, two NHL goal scoring titles, a Lester B. Pearson Trophy as the player's choice for player of the year, an Olympic gold medal and a World Cup.
I think within time most will agree Iginla will rank as the greatest Flame. But there is one thing missing from his resume that would cement that status for him - a Stanley Cup.
Iginla led the Flames to game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals in 2004, finally bowing to the Tampa Bay Lightning. That may be close enough as far as history's rear view mirror is concerned.
And let's not forget - the Flames are a real threat to go a ways this post season and in the future. With Iginla, Kiprusoff and Dion Phaneuf locked up with long term contracts, the Flames should be contenders for the foreseeable future.
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