Jarome Iginla: Hockey’s Great Black Ambassador And A True Legend

Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla is a hockey legend. He officially called an end to his 20-year NHL career today, with the all-time leading scorer and longtime face of the Calgary Flames franchise, holding a special ceremony in Calgary.

In sports writing, we tend to casually throw around such words like legend, icon, and trailblazer when describing an athlete that does anything noteworthy. 

But in Iginlas case, he was all of those and then some during his playing career. 

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When Nashville Predators defenseman PK Subban was recently named the cover athlete for the NHL 19 EA Sports video game, he was the first black player to have the honor since Iginla did the same for NHL 03. 

Top 10 Black Video Game Cover Athletes – Pt1

The former Norris Trophy winner knew the magnitude of the moment. After all, Iginla was a role model to many of hockeys black players. 

“It’s pretty special, you know when I first found out that I was going to be on the cover I had to pinch myself and I am still pinching myself,” Subban told NHL.com before he was introduced on stage at the 2018 NHL Awards. “When I look at it, it doesn’t really seem real. Seems like it was yesterday I was opening up NHL 03 with Jarome Iginla on the front, playing NHL for the first time. Now to think to be on the cover and representing the NHL is pretty special achievement.”

Iginlas style of play was as certain as death and taxes when he captained the Calgary Flames from 2003-2013 until he was traded to the Penguins. One of the things that endeared him to not only Flames fans, but hockey fans in general was the fact that he was one of the sports premier power forwards, in which he combined finesse and physicality. 

Iginla was a player that fought his own fights and stuck up for teammates against coaches. 

He has a brief appearance in Ice Guardians, a documentary on the role an enforcer plays in the sport. 

Most fans think that that Iginla was the NHLs first black captain, but that honor goes to Dirk Graham of the Chicago Blackhawks in 1988-89.

Iginla was a prominent member of one of hockeys unofficial statistics, the Gordie Howe Hat Trick, which is when a player records at least a goal, an assist, and has a fight in a game. 

He also led a handshake line when Vancouver Canucks legend Trevor Linden retired in 2008. Those types of moments are usually reserved after a playoff series. Linden told reporters after the game that he respected the gesture saying, “I think Jarome is one of the classiest players in the league.”

Jarome Iginla – Calgary Flames Career Tribute

In 1219 games, 525 goals + 570 assists = 1095 points.

Iginlas accolades include being named to the NHLs all-rookie team, six-time All-Star, Maurice Rocket Richard Trophy winner (NHL leader in goals), Art Ross Trophy winner (NHL leader in points), the King Clancy Memorial Trophy (Leadership and humanitarian contributions) and the Mark Messier Leadership Award, along with winning two gold medals at the Turin and Vancouver Olympics Games. 

In some cases, Iginlas maturity was often tested when he was snubbed for league-wide awards.

At the end of the 2001-2002 season, he was edged out by Montreal Canadiens goaltenders Jose Theodore for the Hart Trophy, the NHLs MVP Award. Theodore won due to a tiebreaker, where the player with the most first-place votes is favored. The award is voted on by media members. 

One media member left Iginla off of their ballot completely, despite the fact that he had scored 27 percent of his teams goals that season, the highest percentage in the NHL at the time since 1929. 

Iginla couldve made a big deal of the slight. Instead, he took the high road even though he had won the Lester B. Pierson Award, the MVP award voted on by the players, that season. 

Theres nothing I can do to change the voting. It was out of my hands, Iginla said in the book Breaking the Ice: The Black Experience in Professional Hockey. At least I was the only guy to go on stage three times. And the players did make me their MVP. 

Iginla has a role in one of the most entertaining hockey games in recent memory. 

In the gold medal game of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games between the United States and Canada, Iginla was one of Canadas alternate captains. 

With the game tied at 2-2 in overtime, he fought off a check from Ryan Suter of Team USA and got a blind pass. He heard Sidney Crosby screaming, IGGY! IGGY! as he charged the net and Iginla assisted on Crosbys goal that won the gold medal for the Canadians. 

Canada Win Ice Hockey Gold V USA – Highlights – Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics

Highlights from the final of the men’s ice hockey event where Canada defeat the USA 3-2 for the gold medal at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. For more Vancouver 2010 videos go to http://www.youtube.com/OlympicVancouver2010 and visit the official website of the Olympic Movement at http://www.olympic.org for all information on Olympic Games, Sports and Athletes, National Olympic Committees and Olympic News.

I just tried to let him know where I was, Crosby told the Vancouver Sun. He outmuscled the guy. Thats basically what it came down to; a one-on-one battle and he won it and we were able to capitalize on it.

When an aging players skill decline, along with the teams management wanting to rebuild, Iginlas days in Calgary were numbered. 

It was sad to watch a player of his talent get traded around from team to team at the end of his career. Seeing him play for the Bruins, Penguins, Avalanche and the Kings was weird. 

After all, most hockey fans know him from being the captain of the Flames. And his legacy of one of the games best players in cemented. 

At any rate, Jarome Iginla has his place in hockey lore as a winner, a fantastic teammate, and as one of hockey’s great ambassadors. 

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