The 39-year-old future Hall of Fame forward has been around long enough to know that aging players on rebuilding groups generally get dealt to playoff-bound teams looking to muscle up for a run.
Iginla indicated on Wednesday he hoped this would happen to him.
“I would like to, at the deadline, go somewhere,” Iginla said in an interview with Puck Daddy before the Avalanche played the Kings. “I would like to be in the playoffs. I would hope that there is some opportunity to go and play in the playoffs. Those are the best games, the most fun for sure, and you have a chance to win. So no, I haven’t given up on that chance to win.”
Iginla said he hasn’t “really talked” to Avalanche management about this “but I imagine that’s all part of it.”
Added Iginla, “I think it helps being a younger team – I imagine that’s … I’ve been a part of it long enough to know that that’s just a part of the process and if they can get draft picks and stuff, you know for their older guys, the guys who are not in their future plans, that’s part of it and I definitely would be open to that. I have enjoyed it (in Colorado) and there are lots of great young guys here, and I think it’s going to be a promising future. But yeah, my window’s not the same as the other guys for sure.”
Iginla is in the final season of a three-year, $16 million contract (one that holds a no-move clause, which he’d have to waive) and has suffered through one of the worst campaigns of his career with six goals and 12 points in 47 games.
When Iginla signed with Colorado, they were coming off a Central Division crown and seemed to be a team on the upswing with youngsters Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly and Gabriel Landeskog.
In his time there, the team hasn’t made the postseason; and this year Colorado has struggled through the worst season in the NHL. The Avs traded O’Reilly after Iginla’s first year with the team and now Duchene and Landeskog appear to be on the trading block.
The Avalanche have the lowest points percentage in the league at .298 and the fewest amount of points in the NHL at 28. Iginla has played 1,522 games in his career and on some teams that struggled to make the playoffs. But the amount of losing he has seen this year has been a rarity for him.
“It has been a hard year for all of us being where we are in the standings and the amount of … the lack of wins. It’s definitely been a trying year hockey wise,” Iginla said. “But saying that, it’s part of the game, and I’ll tell you it’s more fun when you’re winning, no question, but it’s still fun. Fortunately, there’s a lot of very good young guys here that will learn from it and hopefully never have a first two-thirds, or whatever we are, into the year like this again, because I haven’t had one like this. I’ve missed the playoffs many times but usually it’s in the last week or last few games or whatever. You’re in it, you’re in the hunt. This has been – it has been difficult hockey-wise and personally it has been a little tougher to … a tougher time than I had producing than before.”
Iginla said he has no qualms in his decision to sign with Colorado, but understands that missing the playoffs two straight years near the end of his career has been tough, as he chases his first Stanley Cup. He’s not going to play forever and the end of the career isn’t that far off.
“When I came here, I saw a lot of positives and from the outside looking in the goal was to come and to try to help the team get better and ultimately win. It wasn’t just to make the playoffs. We were hoping to keep getting better and to build towards winning. It hasn’t worked out that way obviously but there’s lots of good pieces and the team has changed a little bit over the last few years and a couple of years and lots of different things but, are there regrets? No I don’t have any regrets,” Iginla said.
“I did the best decision that my family and I thought at the time and it’s been a lot of good things. It’s a great place to live and people in the organization have treated me really well and it’s part of sports. It’s the way it goes. I kind of feel like it all works out one way or another and do my best, that’s all I can do, you know?”
It seemed there was a chance that Iginla could find a positive moment for himself in this season. The NHL said it would announce the top 100 players in league history and it seemed possible that Iginla would be on the list. But as the ceremony drew closer, Iginla never received a call for the League. He eventually realized he didn’t make it. Iginla ranks 16th in the NHL in all-time goals scored with 617 and 34th in points with 1,285. He had the second-most goals of players who didn’t make the list, behind Dave Andreychuk.
“I would have loved to be (on the list). It’s something that it’s definitely an honor and a compliment for all the guys who are on there and lots of great players, but saying that it is what it is,” Iginla said. “I know they had a lot of tough decisions and a lot of great players and a lot of great players that are left off and that’s pretty much the end, you know what I mean?”
Despite the team’s struggles, Iginla has still been a solid pro and helped the Avalanche’s young players understand what they need to do in order to be consistent NHL players.
There are worse role models than Jarome Iginla.
“You watch him come to the rink and his preparation and the way he approaches every game and he’s a positive guy and a positive influence on all our young guys,” Colorado coach Jared Bednar said. “He’s still on top of his game with his compete and his intensity and we need some of that in our lineup so he has been real good for us really from the start of the year all the way until now. And the work he does in the offseason to keep himself in top condition is what helps him continue to play. ”
What could Iginla give a team looking for his services? Even though he has struggled this season he averaged 27 goals the previous three years. In the right situation he could add a veteran scoring presence on a team looking for one more piece on a Cup run.
“He’s still getting used in pretty much the same way he was last year. He hasn’t scored as much as he did last year but the power play is not quite as efficient as it was last season and they were a little bit better on the power play,” Bednar said. “He does a bunch of different things for us. He has moved anywhere from second line, third, fourth depending on who we’re playing sometimes. He has been a good player for us through the course of the season.”
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