BOSTON - Jarome Iginla knows this feeling well, but it doesn't make it any easier to accept.
The 18-year veteran once again came up short in winning the elusive Stanley Cup. And this season he came up short with a team that many expected to at least get to the Finals, if not win it.
It wasn't due to lack of effort on Iginla's part, and it certainly wasn't due to lack of skill. In fact, it's safe to say he exceeded expectations At age 36, Iginla tied for the B's lead in scoring with 30 goals (Patrice Bergeron also had 30) and 31 assists and seemed to fit seamlessly into that top-line spot after Nathan Horton left for Columbus.
"He had a good year," coach Claude Julien said of Iginla. "Thirty goals — again, those 30-goal scorers are hard to find. Certainly scored some goals for us in playoffs as well . . . So he’s an unbelievable player, but also an unbelievable person. He’s great, he fit in beautifully in our room with our players and certainly he was a real important — I thought part of the success that we had after losing Nathan Horton . . . To get him, to be able to get him as the guy to come in and replace him — we got lucky."
Iginla wound up with five goals and two assists in the Bruins' 12 playoff games this year, and he scored Boston's only goal in Wednesday night's 3-1 loss to the Canadiens in Game 7. But he and his linemates, Milan Lucic and David Krejci, were stifled by Montreal's defense for most of the series, and that was a big factor in Boston's defeat.
"Oh it’s hard, it’s hard, there’s no question," Iginla said. "You get to Game 7 and you think you can find a way. It’s a great group of guys here, it’s a great team. And you know, we didn’t get it done. Montreal played well, they played hard. It was a tough, close series. But we didn’t get it done. It sucks right now."
Iginla signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Bruins over last offseason and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Based on how he spoke about his teammates, and the success he had on the team, one would assume that both sides could work something out and Iginla will return for at least next season.
"Oh it’s been amazing, it’s been an amazing run," Iginla said. "It’s a wonderful group of guys . . . we won the President’s Trophy and it was the best regular season I’ve been a part of . . . [The] group was already tight, but bringing us new guys in like myself, Loui Eriskson, Smitty [Reilly Smith], a lot of guys that they made feel part of it. And it was a great regular season . . .
"We look at it, we know we can be better in certain areas . . . But it’s hard. It’s hard. We know we were a very, very good team and had a great shot."
It sure sounds like Iginla thinks he and the Bruins have some unfinished business to take care of next season.