Jarome Iginla holds no grudges against the Bruins. As a matter of fact, he said after Monday’s 2-1 win over his former employer that he’s grateful for the one year he spent in Boston.
“It was definitely a little bit different,” said Iginla, who had no shots or assists in 17 minutes and 20 shifts. “I had one of the best [years] of my career, one of the most exciting years last year, one of favorite years, the whole experience coming to this. I made some good friends that are on their side playing with the team, and we had a very good team. So it was a little different, for sure. It hasn’t been too long, it feels almost like you’ve just been gone for a long vacation, but it’s part of the game.
“Coming from the other side, once the game starts, it’s business. We were looking for our first win, and we knew they were trying to get things going for themselves. But it’s a bit different on the ice. You wouldn’t want to play all the time against that team, but it’s a great place and it’s fun to come back.”
After 30 goals and 31 assists in 78 games on Boston’s top line, Iginla left Boston for Denver and signed a three-year, $16 million deal with the Avalanche. On Monday, he acknowledged the real economics the Bruins were facing.
“Well, I understand it,” Iginla said. “I was hoping at the time, before free agency opened, that it could work out, but you know there are cap issues. With my family, we wanted to be able to make sure, I’m going to play more than one year, and I didn’t want to just play one year then next year [the Bruins] have even less [cap] room. With all the good, young guys they have coming up, they’ve got to keep room for them and keep signing them.
“It’s a good problem to have, though, if you’re the Bruins. But I understood why and figured if I was going to move my family, it would be the time now, before they keep getting more entrenched in school and liking it even more, and then trying to move the following year. I’ve got a great opportunity in Colorado. I’m excited to be here, and it’s a good, young, fun team. But like I said, before that with the Bruins, it was one of the best experiences of my career. I understand why, and like I said, their young guys played, [Torey] Krug, Dougie Hamilton, [Reilly] Smith, they played great. You’ve got to have room for them, Looch, the list goes on. So I understand.”
Boston’s cap issues are well documented, leading to the trade of defenseman Johnny Boychuk. Long before that trade, Iginla was aware the NHL‘s cap of $68.66 million for this season would keep him from coming back.
“It wasn’t just the bonuses and the one-year thing, it was that it just tightens up,” Iginla said. “The cap ended up going down even more. It didn’t go up as much as they would have expected. Then the following year, the bigger risk that’s more than the financial, for myself, is having to move our kids in school after they’ve been here for two years and love it. They liked it after one. But I figure if we’re going to move, we want to move one more time for them. So that was more the risk than it was on the financial side.
Like his Avalanche, the Bruins are having a very hard time finding the back of the net to start the season. But he does see reason for hope for improvement with his former club with Monday’s return of David Krejci.
“Oh, I think it’s early,” Iginla said. “I think everything is so magnified at the beginning of the season. I do follow, looking at the scores at night. I’ve got a lot of friends over on the other side, so I follow how they’re doing and stuff, and they’re close games. To get Krech back will be a big boost. He’s a big part of the offense, big part of the team over there. And they’ve had some guys out, so I don’t doubt that they’ll be just fine and hard to play against as ever.”
Iginla, more than anything, appreciated the fans response to him throughout the game.
“It was good. I didn’t get booed every time I touched the puck, so I appreciated that,” Iginla said. “There were some fans that were good. Over the course of a year you get to see some very familiar faces around the building, in warmup routines and stuff. It was good to see, I saw some of the familiar ones there. I enjoyed that. I’ll remember these days, guys don’t go through it very much when you go back to your old team. But I’m sure I’m going to remember this a little bit different playing against guys on the other side. But it was a fun game, and it obviously ended well for us.”
Perhaps one of the more telling comments of postgame came from Claude Julien, when referencing his own top line without one of the game’s best finishers from last season.
“We’ve got [Seth] Griffith on the right because Iginla’s not here ‘ he’s on the other side,” Julien said.