Iggy Set To Pop Cork On A Milestone

By Steve Macfarlane
Updated: March 7, 2008

CALGARY — Jarome Iginla’s next goal will be a memorable one.

There have been many of those over his 12 NHL seasons with the Calgary Flames, but the inevitable No. 365 will push him past Theoren Fleury in the franchise record book.

Entering Friday’s home game against Nashville, top spot in the goal category will eventually belong to Iginla. “I’m excited,” said the always humble Flames captain Monday after a practice at the Westside Rec Centre.

“Definitely very fortunate to have the opportunity and the way things have gone over the last 10 or 11 years. I remember when Theo broke the mark, it wasn’t something I was even looking at down the road. It was pretty amazing watching him.”

As is his way, Iginla uses words like ‘blessed’ and ‘fortunate’ along with ‘if’. For everyone else, it’s a matter of when. Maybe more importantly, where. It could easily have come last Saturday in Phoenix.

With a pair of scores putting him on par with his former teammate, a hat-trick to take the outright lead would have been appropriate the way Iginla seems to score in bunches.

But at least one teammate was glad it didn’t work out that way. “I was kind of glad he didn’t score it with the empty net,” said Craig Conroy, who has had a hand in many of Iginla’s markers over the years.

“I was hoping against the empty-net goal, but he said he would have shot it in there, anyways. Hopefully, he can get it at home.” Reaching the milestone at the Saddledome would allow the locals to show Iginla how much he’s appreciated.

For his goal scoring, but also for his attitude, his leadership, his modesty, his loyalty to a club that could be the only one he’ll have known by the time he hangs up his skates.

By then, he’ll also have bumped Fleury from the overall points record. Getting it done at the Saddledome isn’t a foregone conclusion, though, despite a three-game homestand.

“I’d like to. It’d be really cool to do that, but I’m really going to try to focus on the same preparation,” said Iginla. “I’m not going to press.”

So many of his 364 goals have been clutch, trying to pick out a favourite is next to impossible. Iginla narrows it down to two. “Probably the time I got 50,” he said first.

That was in 2002 as the season neared an end. “In Chicago, I got a pass from Conroy. The games were winding down. I think there were only four or five left (in the regular-season). I was trying not to press.

“I was real excited when I saw it go over Jocelyn Thibeault’s glove there.”

Iginla added a second that night — and would finish with a league-high 52, earning him the Maurice (Rocket) Richard Trophy.

He also claimed the Art Ross Trophy for topping the points race with 96, and the Lester B. Pearson Award as the players’ choice for the league’s most valuable player.

His first regular-season score was a big one in his eyes, too. “I got a pass in Vancouver, 2-on-1, from Corey Millen,” recalled Iginla. “That one probably (meant) just as much because it was just such a huge lift.”

A tough pre-season had the rookie doubting himself a little, although veterans like Fleury never did.

“I was just so excited to get a goal,” said Iginla.