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Canada’s Big Secret A Man Called Iginla
Iginla is one of the most talented hockey players that America fans do not know. He plays in the great Canadian Midwest of Calgary Alberta Canada therefore many do not get to see this young man skate.
In 2006 Jerome Iginla was the first Black position player to participate in hockey‘s greatest tournament championship. There have been Black Goaltenders in the Stanley Cup before but never wingers, centers, or forwards. Jerome Iginla, the now famous Captain of the Flames led his team against The Tampa Bay Lightning for the oldest trophy in North America, Lord Stanley‘s Cup. Iginla and the Flames did not win in the 2003-2004 season.
Winning Lord Stanley’s Cup is known as the hardest championship in any major American sports. A major league hockey team has to stay healthy and win sixteen playoff games before receiving Lord Stanley‘s Cup. Only the National Basketball Association has sixteen playoff games.
The 2006 season was filled with pleasant surprises and could be called one of the best playoffs in hockey history. Both Tampa Bay and Calgary had crazy fans. They had fans that knew every player and how that player helps his/ her favorite team.
Jerome Iginla beat up on the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Finals scoring ten goals and giving other teammates seven assist. This catapulted him into the lead for the Conn Smyth Trophy. This trophy is given to the most valuable player in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He continued to impress the American public with his defense and skating style. He is a very shy young man that does not like to be noticed but you cannot miss him in Calgary.
Hockey veterans say that Jerome could be the next GREAT ONE, if he stays healthy throughout his career.
Young black men are making history with every passing year. 2006 was no acceptation. As most of us know not many African Americans follow the very exciting sport of hockey or even attempt to play this wonderful game on ice. Not many Blacks are interested in this fast game. This game can be played outside, in the dead of winter on ice. Hockey is a fast, hard hitting game. With not much scoring, it could be very frustrating at times.
The excitement is fulfilling even if your favorite team loses. If God had given me a normal body this would have been the sport to play.
Now hockey has changed forever. After the 1950‘s and 1960‘s seasons, the world witnessed the first Black player in the National Hockey League Willie O‘Ree who played the right wing with the Boston Bruins from 1959-1961. He stood alone for many years in the professional hockey world because he was the only player of color on ice, until the talented Black Canadian Goalie for the four time Stanley Cup Champion Edmonton Oilers, Grant Fuhr skated on the ice. Grant had a lot of help with “The Great One”, Wayne Gretzky scored 90 goals a year. Fuhr opened the door for other Black Canadians and African Americans to play hockey. Now there are over twenty Black players in the league and many are now all stars.
One very special player entered the league in 1996. Everybody was talking about him. Iginla was called the Black Gretzky with speed.
This Black Canadian got drafted in the 1st round by the Dallas Stars. Iginla never wore a Stars jersey because within months he was traded to the Calgary Flames for another young star Joe Nieuwendyk. The Stars would later regret trading this black wonder on ice. Dallas found out that size is not everything.
Iginla played every single game (82) his first year with the Calgary Flames, not many players can do this. Iginla became the first Black hockey player to win the Rookie of The Year Award. Everybody loved his slashing skating style while heading toward the net to score. He seemed to have eyes in the back of his head because he knew where all of his teammates were on the ice and would give them the puck for many more assist that year.
Iginla has won many other awards in his short hockey career. He won the Art Ross Trophy, which means he was the leading scorer for that year. He was one of the first players to ever receive the leagues new scoring title award the 1999 Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy. This trophy was given to the leading scorer at the end of the regular season from the Montreal Canadians Hockey Club.
Another honor in the 2001-02 season was the Lester B. Pearson Award for the Outstanding Player of the Year. This trophy is given after the votes by the (NHLPA), National Hockey League Players Association, his peers. Iginla stated, he just loves to play the game and does not seek any awards. He is the perfect gentleman and good sportsman in a game that produces many thugs on ice.
At the beginning of the 2006 season the Calgary Flames gave him a new black, red, and white playing jersey with a big C on the left shoulder. At that moment he became the team captain and the second Black hockey player to ever receive the “C” on any hockey team jersey.
Iginla does not see it that way; it was so natural for him. He states that he is a hockey player first, a Calgary Flame second and a team leader third. He led the Flames into their first Stanley Cup playoffs since 1996. You can‘t miss big Jerome Iginla with the red and black “C” and the red number 12 on his jersey.
Jerome Iginla is Canada‘s biggest secret.
Â©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod
Â©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod