Put blame for Iginla fiasco in proper place

Put blame for Iginla fiasco in proper place
March 28, 2013, 12:15 pm
Share This Post

It’s inevitable there will be plenty of blame, foot stomping and gnashing of teeth from the Bruins fan base the day after they lost out on Hall of Fame winger Jarome Iginla.

There will probably also be more than a few hate tweets and merciless beatings on the message boards.  

After all it’s so reminiscent of the months following the 2003 baseball season when the very same Boston fan base thought they had a “sure thing” deal for Alex Rodriguez only to have the New York Yankees sweep the rug out from under them. This time it was Penguins GM Ray Shero playing the role of Lucy and pulling the pigskin away from the Bruins front office as they got ready to lean into a football kick.  

Things worked out pretty well for the Red Sox in the five years following the A-Rod debacle, and it’s a bit of a different situation with a Bruins franchise just two years removed from a stirring Stanley Cup campaign.

But the fresh wound is absolutely there for those surrounding the Black and Gold: team executives, scouts, players, media and the fan base all thought No. 12 from Calgary Cowtown was on his way to Causeway Street.

That means there is a natural inclination for many to place blame on “the day after” Iginla stunned the city of Boston.  

Should Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli take the blame for failing to furnish a good enough offer to Calgary that would have made it impossible to refuse?

Some may want to go there, but it would be incredibly misguided given how things went down in this particular situation.

Including goalie prospect Malcolm Subban or moving the first round pick from conditional to guaranteed simply wouldn’t have mattered if Iginla always wanted to win a Cup with his buddy, Sidney Crosby, in Pittsburgh. That’s how much clout players like Iginla hold in the process when they have a full no-movement clause and the ear of the team owner setting out the marching orders.

Let’s all be honest for a hockey second here.

If Iginla’s first desire is to win a Stanley Cup, then what other logical destination choice is there but a hockey club that’s amidst a 13 game winning streak, has the best player in the world in Crosby and has a GM in Shero that’s already secured gritty Brenden Morrow and hulking Douglas Murray for the playoff run?

Iginla and Calgary Flames owner Murray Edwards have forged a very strong relationship during his 16 years in that organization, and it’s believed Edwards has played a vocal role in many of Calgary’s major decisions during his ownership tenure.

As it should be when you sign all the checks.

It’s also assumed Feaster’s instructions were to deal Iginla to whichever team he deemed was the right fit for him. The GM admitted as much when announcing the trade following their game on Wednesday night.

Of course, Iginla has earned a no trade/no movement clause through a Hall of Fame career replete with class and dignity. But in utilizing his contractual rights he also put the boot to the Bruins.

“I approached Jarome and had a number of conversations with him about where we are and where we want to go moving forward,” said Feaster, describing the process that ended with a “yea” or “nay” from Iginla. “In the final analysis we had offers from three different clubs. The player in this particular case has a no trade/no move clause, so the player was also a part of the process. We worked with the player, and we concluded a deal this evening with the Pittsburgh Penguins.”

In this working with the player went a little something like this: “so where do you want us to send you, Jarome?”

Edwards called together Calgary GM Jay Feaster and his front office staff at 7 a.m. on Wednesday morning, and it’s assumed he instructed Feaster and Co. to immediately collect the best offers from Iginla’s interested suitors. The Bruins submitted their offer of Alex Khokhlachev, Matt Bartkowski and a first round pick, and TSN analyst Bob McKenzie tweeted after the fact that Calgary actually held Boston’s offer in higher regard during the process.

Boston’s offer was better on paper as well. Leaf through the “Future Watch” edition of the Hockey News with a list of top 10 prospects for each of the 30 NHL teams: Koko was No. 3 on Boston’s list of prospects behind Dougie Hamilton and Subban and is widely considered a 19-year-old “A” prospect across the league.  

Kenneth Agostino and Ben Hanowski were the key prospects coming from Pittsburgh, and both are nowhere to be found on Pittsburgh’s list of top 10 prospects. I’m sure they’re both fine, young men, but they also really aren’t in the same class as Khokhlachev while enjoying nice careers at Yale University and St. Cloud State. The Penguins didn’t give away anything of true value aside from their first round pick, which looks more and more like it might end up being No. 30 overall when things are all said and done this year.

Would including Subban instead of Khokhlachev made a difference in getting the deal done?

Perhaps to Calgary’s front office, but it was the 35-year-old Iginla that was making the final decision. So it wouldn’t have made a difference at all in the final analysis.  

The names of a few prospects that he’ll never play with certainly didn’t matter to Iggy when he was making a decision to waive his no-movement clause.

All that mattered in the end result was this: Iginla wanted to play in Pittsburgh and nowhere else, and he essentially tied Calgary’s hands to make sure he would become a tag-team partner with Sid the Kid. The other two offers were merely there to try and drive up the price for the Penguins, but that didn’t seem to work either as Pittsburgh still has names like Olli Maatta, Brian Dumoulin and Scott Harrington crowding their impressive prospect ranks.

And now they have Iginla wearing No. 12 for the Penguins, and the Bruins don’t.

It should be some interesting theatre when Iginla visits Boston with the Penguins on Friday, April 19. There may be a new enemy in a Pittsburgh uniform aside from just cheap shot artist Matt Cooke.

Iginla showed this week that he had no interest in being a part of Boston’s run to another Stanley Cup. The best thing Bruins fans can do now is realize that Iginla is the only place where any blame sits. They’d be best served to hold it all in for a cathartic release when the legendary power forward takes the TD Garden ice to the “Imperial March” with the rest of the Yankees-like Pittsburgh lineup next month for a flexing of their dynastic muscles.