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Cup appeal drew Iginla to Pens

REUTERS
Calgary Flames' captain Jarome Iginla handles the puck during the first period of their NHL hockey game against the St. Louis Blues in Calgary, Alberta, March 24, 2013. The Penguins have acquired Iginla as the latest part of what the team hopes will be a serious run at a Stanley Cup.

Penguins/NHL Videos

WHO THEY GOT

Jarome Iginla

Position: Right winger

Shoots: Right

Age: 35

Height/weight: 6-foot-1, 210 pounds

2013 stats: 9 goals, 13 assists, 22 points, minus-7 rating, 31 games (Calgary)

Career highlights: Flames' captain since 2003. … Scored at least 30 goals in 11 straight seasons, including two each of at least 40 and 50 goals. … Totaled 525 goals and 1,095 points in 1,219 regular-season games. … Played in 54 playoff games, tallying 28 goals and 49 points. … Drafted 11th overall (Dallas) in 1995.

WHO THEY LOST

Ben Hanowski

Position: Right winger

Shoots: Left

Age: 22

Height/weight: 6-foot-2/210 pounds

2013 stats: 16 goals, 13 assists, 29 points and an even rating in 34 games (St. Cloud State, NCAA)

Career highlights: Selected in Round 3 (63rd overall) by Penguins in 2009 NHL Entry Draft

Kenny Agostino

Position: Right winger/center

Shoots: Left

Age: 20

Height/weight: 5-foot-11, 195 pounds

2013 stats: 15 goals, 22 assists, 37 points and an even rating in 33 games (Yale, NCAA)

Career highlights: Selected in Round 5 (140th overall) by the Penguins in 2010 NHL Entry Draft

LINE POSSIBILITIES

Rob Rossi projects the Penguins' eventual line combinations after the trade deadline passes (April 3) and rosters are expanded:

Left wing, center, right wing

P. Dupuis, S. Crosby, J. Iginla

Dupuis said he is comfortable on either side. He moves so Crosby and Iginla can play together as they did at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Left wing, center, right wing

C. Kunitz, E. Malkin, J. Neal

This is not a demotion for Kunitz but an even-strength spark for Malkin and Neal. These three were dominant together most of last season.

Left wing, center, right wing

B. Morrow, B. Sutter, M. Cooke

Cooke switches sides because Morrow has never played on the right wing. This third line gives the Penguins a gritty identity.

Left wing, center, right wing

C. Adams, J. Vitale, T. Kennedy

Kennedy's speed and skill could add an offensive threat to a checking line, just as Dupuis did for the 2009 Cup champion Penguins.

Extras: Beau Bennett, Dustin Jeffrey, Tanner Glass

Bennett is the logical fill-in for injuries among the top-nine wingers. Jeffery's position versatility and defensive-zone play could make him a checking-line replacement.

Thursday, March 28, 2013, 8:00 p.m.
 

Jarome Iginla is a straight shooter.

He is a Penguin because he wants a shot at the Stanley Cup.

“There's no smoke and mirrors,” left winger Brenden Morrow said of his newest teammate. “He's an honest, quality person.”

Iginla said his heart was torn between Calgary and Pittsburgh, but the Penguins had an advantage over the club he had captained since 2003.

“To play on a team with the two best players in the world — and the roll they're on — I wanted that,” Iginla said Thursday in Calgary, Alberta, where he bid adieu to the Flames after 16 seasons.

The Penguins acquired Iginla just after midnight Thursday, swapping prospects — wingers Ben Hanowski and Kenny Agostino — and a first-round draft pick for the Flames' franchise leader in goals, points and games.

Iginla has notched more than 500 goals and 1,000 points, and he won Olympic gold medals with Mario Lemieux (2002) and Sidney Crosby (2010). At the Vancouver Games in 2010, Iginla called Crosby, Morrow and Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury teammates.

Like Morrow, Iginla has never touched the Stanley Cup.

Iginla is counting on the team owned by Lemieux and captained by Crosby to erase that from a Hall of Fame resume.

Lemieux, who rarely grants interviews or releases comments via team officials, praised Iginla.

“He has so many qualities that will benefit our team here in Pittsburgh,” Lemieux said in the statement.

Stephen Harper, Canada's prime minister, shared his thoughts on Twitter: “Jarome Iginla is a class act, a proud Canadian, and an all-time Flames great. Thanks for everything, Jarome.”

General manager Ray Shero's interest in Iginla was the hockey world's worst kept secret, but the deal with Calgary was not struck until after reports out of Canada called the “Iggy Watch” for the Bruins late Wednesday.

Shero informed his staff multiple times there likely would be no deal, he said.

However, the hands of Calgary general manager Jay Feaster were cuffed by Iginla, whose contract contained a clause that allowed him to pick a new club.

Feaster called Shero late Wednesday and said Iginla's pick was the Penguins.

“I called my kids and let them know we acquired Jarome Iginla, and they said, ‘No you didn't. He's going somewhere else. We saw on TV,' ” Shero said. “I'm, like, ‘Well, I think we're getting him.'

“If there's a chance to get Jarome Iginla … we're going to try and get Jarome Iginla. There's only one Jarome Iginla.”

The Penguins, winners of 13 in a row before playing at home against Winnipeg on Thursday, were preferred because they are best built to win the Cup, Iginla said.

Also, they have former MVPs Crosby and Evgeni Malkin — players who, like Iginla, have won scoring titles.

Iginla carried the offensive load with the Flames, who lost the 2003 Final after holding a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series.

“I'd love to get my first crack at one Cup,” he said. “Pittsburgh has the two best players in the world. It's really hard as a player to pass up the opportunity to play on a team with Sid and Malkin.”

Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at rrossi@tribweb.com of via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.

 

 

 
 


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