I've always liked Jarome Iginla. I'm not sure I know anyone who doesn't. Even if he never played for your favorite team, he's one of those guys that you have to at the very least respect, if not outright admire. He'd be on pretty much any list of my favorite players of the last few decades.
And so, it goes without saying, Saturday night made me sad.
That was the night that Iginla celebrated his 1,500th regular season game. It's a major milestone, one that only 15 other players have reached. And Iginla got to spend that historic game getting pummeled in a 10-1 loss to the Canadiens.
The Avalanche are awful this year, and while a struggling Iginla hasn't helped much, he deserves better. So let's figure out a way to set him free. It seems like a good day for it — Iginla and the Avs are in action tonight, and two of his former teams, the Penguins and Bruins, are facing each other. And the team he started his NHL career with is even in action too, as the Flames face the Lightning. Maybe they'll even count all the goals this time.
So it's pretty much Jarome Iginla night in the NHL. In his honor, let's run down the five best destinations for when he inevitably waives his no-trade clause in the leadup to this year's trade deadline.
To be fair, these aren't necessarily the best destinations for Iginla himself, but rather the ones that would be the most entertaining for us, the fans. Still, he'd go into this year's playoffs as perhaps the best Old Guy Without A Cup story since Ray Bourque, so it's important that we get this right.
Let's begin, fittingly, where it all began.
5. Dallas Stars
The irresistible narrative: The team that drafted Iginla and then traded him away before his first game all those years ago brings him back into the fold just in time to win a Cup.
Could it happen? OK, there's a glaring problem with this idea that I'm sure you're already muttering about: The Stars don't need offense. They're struggling this year because their goaltending is shaky and their blueline misses Alex Goligoski more than anyone thought. The forwards are banged up, sure, but once everyone is healthy the Stars will be fine when it comes to scoring. It's keeping the puck out that's been the problem.
And yet… hockey is a game of outscoring your opponent, right? Sure, ideally Jim Nill would be able to go out and get a Ben Bishop or a Kevin Shattenkirk instead. But if those deals don't materialize, there's always plan B. A 6-5 win is still a win, after all, even in the playoffs. And it's not like Iginla is some flashy perimeter guy who'll wilt from the post-season grind.
The last time the Dallas Stars made a Jarome Iginla trade, it led to a Stanley Cup. It could happen again.