Late in the evening of March 27th, 2013, the Boston Bruins had just finished losing to their arch rivals the Montreal Canadiens, but things weren’t as bleak as they appeared. It was an overtime loss, and gave the hated Habs the lead in the East, but still Cam Neely was seen smiling in the elevator after the tilt. The reason for all the happiness: Peter Chiarelli, the loved and yet maligned (at times) GM, had pulled off a deal that was going to add some scoring punch and veteran leadership to the local six. Jarome Iginla was joining the team. Shawn Thornton indicated as much. Dougie Hamilton, during an interview on WEEI, alluded to it.
So where is Jarome Iginla…?
He’s wearing Black…that of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Buddy of, and Canadian National Team line-mates with Sidney Crosby, Jarome was believed to fill the latter role again. But how could this happen? Aaron Ward of TSN (who had been taking a beating on Twitter in the Boston area) all but assured us that he would be wearing a spoked B. Yet around 2:00am the morning of the 28th, the news came over my twitter feed…Iginla to the Pens. And the deal…A first round pick and two prospects. Come to find out the prospects aren’t even what scouts would call “elite”.
So where do the Bruins go from here?
The short answer was no one knew. I don’t believe the Bruins brass even knew. Steve Yzerman had stated that he was not trading Martin St. Louis, who would have been a nice addition to the squad. Curtis Glencross’ name had been bandied about, but with the Iginla move, it didn’t seem likely that Calgary would deal another forward, especially one that had 21 points in 28 games (at the time), is affordable at 2.5 million dollars and has another year on his deal as well as a no movement clause. To everyone paying attention, that left Jaromir Jagr as the only option, but not necessarily a viable one. He’ll make a splash, i thought (albeit not as big as Iginla going to Jagr’s former club), but at 4.5 million, he would be an expensive rental player and at 41 years of age, may not be playing anywhere next year. I had heard mention of Eric Nystrom, also from Dallas, but this didn’t seem to be getting much traction. From reports I’d read, he is a great locker room guy and a grinder on the ice, hard working third/fourth line type. He only had 4 goals and 6 points on the season (again, at the time), having played in every game, which didn’t fill me with enthusiasm for his scoring touch.
As far as the defensive side of things, names like Mark Sreit had been thrown around. With Lubomir Visnovsky signing an extension for another two years with the Isles, Mark was a possibility. At issue here was that “the other” New York team and the Islanders were entrenched in a battle for the final playoff spot in the east. As it turned out, both New York teams made it to the playoffs, and made their exits, with the Islanders leaving more of a positive impression on the hearts and minds of the fans and talking heads…
So things have come full circle. The Bruins acquired Jaromir Jagr from the Dallas Stars for what is now a first round pick, Lane MacDermid, and Cody Payne. And while Jaromir didn’t light it up as the fans had hoped, he did inject some excitement by coming to Boston. Iginla did the same for Pittsburgh, showing up just as Crosby was getting hurt. So, here in the Eastern Conference Finals, the Bruins will get to see what they missed out on. With a full complement of players, the Penguins are expected by most outside of Massachusetts to win the series.
The bonus to not making the Iginla deal is in what was not given away. Matt Bartkowski has shown that he belongs in the NHL, and could be a top 4 defenseman on any squad. He has shown poise and experience beyond his hockey league years. Being encouraged to not play any style but his own (as was Torey Krug), Matt has made the second round his video résumé as to why he belongs. The Bruins, while upset about how the whole deal went down with Calgary, can’t be too upset with how it turned out. They kept talent that they were willing to part with for an aging hall of famer, who still has plenty of talent, and have achieved the same level as the team that won the Iginla sweepstakes.
The question at the trade deadline was…Where do they go from here? The answer, it would appear, is the Stanley Cup finals. If the Bruins can beat the team that beat them back in March.