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. After all, Fleury 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.
Joe Nieuwendyk and Miikka Kiprusoff also deserve to be part of the conversation, but Iginla, to no surprise, left his own name off the list of the best. But I think it is pretty clear that the man they call "Iggy" is the undisputed greatest Flame in Calgary 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, and was runner up for the Hart Trophy. He was instrumental on the international stage, helping Canada win two Olympic gold medals and a World Cup.
I think within time most will agree Iginla will rank as the greatest Flame. But the only 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.
There is no doubt in my mind that Jarome Iginla leaves Calgary as the greatest player in franchise history. Let's look back at Iginla's top memories:
1: Jarome Iginla vs Vincent Lecavalier, Stanley Cup Finals 2004. The fight has entered hockey lore as one of the few legendary fights that people talk about endlessly. For Iginla and the Flames, it was all part of a magical spring.
2: Jarome Iginla's international play: He was an absolute force when helping Canada end it's 50 year gold medal drought at Salt Lake in 2002:
And, of course, in 2002 Jarome Iginla set up what is perhaps the most famous goal in Canadian hockey history:
3: Jarome Iginla's classy good-bye to respected rival Trevor Linden. There are few more classy players in league history than these two.
4: Jarome Iginla's 500th goal (plus video tribute):
5: Jarome Iginla's 1000th point:
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