All through Wednesday night, rumours swirled that Jarome Iginla had been traded to the Boston Bruins. They began when he was scratched from Calgary's game with the Colorado Avalanche, and they reached a fever pitch when the always reliable Aaron Ward of TSN announced that the trade was official, leading most outlets, including this one, to share his report.
But then the Calgary Flames finished their game with the Colorado Avalanche and announced a stunner: Iginla had been traded not to the Boston Bruins, but to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In exchange, the Flames reportedly receive forward prospects Kenneth Agostino, Ben Hanowski and 2013 first-round pick.
Suffice it to say, if they weren't already, the Pittsburgh Penguins just became the de facto team to beat in the Eastern Conference, let alone the NHL. That's what they already were in the eyes of many, but Jarome Iginla makes them even better.
Much of what was written back when he appeared to be a member of the Boston Bruins applies now. Iginla's slowdown may be somewhat exaggerated. It's one thing to be the go-to guy on the Calgary Flames, the guy that other teams must shut down in order to win. It's another thing entirely to be part of a deep, elite team like the one he'll be joining in Pittsburgh, a team that includes Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
And speaking of Crosby and Malkin, that thing we said about Boston's centers? Yeah, that doesn't change either. For most of Iggy's career, first-line centers have been like The Great Valley in The Land Before Time -- something he'd heard of but never seen up close.
What sort of player is Jarome Iginla alongside Crosby or Malkin?
How deep are the Penguins?
This is a big win for Pittsburgh, not just in terms of making their club better but also in terms of preventing Boston from doing the same. When Iginla was reportedly a Bruin, it looked like Boston keeping pace after Pittsburgh had jumped out to an early lead. Now they're a world ahead.
We'll have more on the Calgary side of this trade shortly, but here's what we can say right now: This one hurts. Iginla has been a Flame for 18 years. He's the greatest Flame in NHL history.
And now he's a Penguin.
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