Jarome Iginla, who has worn #12 dating back to his junior hockey days with the Kamloops Blazers, won’t have that familiar number sewn onto the back of his Kings jersey. No, 12 belongs to Marian Gaborik, another tenured veteran, and Iginla doesn’t plan on asking for it. “That’s his number and he’s been very successful with it, and nope, he’s played a long time, too, so that’s his and I wouldn’t even want to ask or anything like that.”
Instead, Iginla planned on speaking with his kids – he has a girl and two boys – and wanted to hear their input before choosing the number he’d wear with Los Angeles.
After quick deliberation, Iginla made up his mind. He’d wear number 88. There is a historical basis for this.
“Actually a true story, one of the only jerseys I ever bought was when Gretzky got traded to the Kings,” he said. “I mean, i was a huge Oilers fan growing up so I bought a Kings jersey and I put on number 88 and I put my name on the back when I was about ten years old. I don’t know if that number’s available, but the kids might like that one.”
On a myriad of other topics – the trade, his relationship with Darryl Sutter, his expected role with Los Angeles and what happened in Colorado this season – Iginla spoke with the media during a conference call early Wednesday afternoon.
Jarome Iginla, on when he knew he would be traded to Los Angeles:
No, I didn’t really know for sure that it was happening. I talked to Joe Sakic and Donnie, my agent, maybe a couple weeks ago and they said they would work on it and Joe was great. He said he would do whatever he could to help facilitate it and that it could work out. So in the last couple of days you start hearing some different speculation and the possibilities and I talked to my agent a couple of times, but no. Not until this morning did I hear for a lot more certain that the Kings was a possible, real destination.
Iginla, on what he can bring to the Kings:
Well I think they’re a great team. I think that, you know, getting one of the top goalies in the game back is — you know, they were already going well before that as a team and that boost, you know, a championship goalie and then also bringing Bishop in. I think they’re a very competitive bunch, I think they play really hard and they have a tendency, a knack for I should say, once they get down in to the nitty-gritty of the big games they find ways to be successful and they’re a very hard group to play against. So I hope to contribute to that. They’re a very competitive group, very determined and I enjoy competing, too, and battling and being determined. What can I bring? I’m not sure what my role will be yet but I’m happy to do whatever Darryl thinks I can help out in whatever area but I think the biggest thing is just trying to play to the group’s identity of being fierce competitors and battling and having fun doing it.
Iginla, on playing for Darryl Sutter again:
Yeah, I’m looking forward to it. I had Darryl as a coach back in Calgary there then as a coach-GM and I really enjoyed playing for him. He’s been very successful. He helps his players to be successful and to be successful as a group. And you know one thing playing for him, he is firm and he can be tough but I think that can be a good thing and you always know where you stand with him and what he’s expecting of you and what role – and he really defines roles – so I look forward to talking to him and working with him in what he’d like me to do and what he expects from me. But it does make it easier having that relationship because every coach has a different style and way of communicating and as a player getting used to it, you know, it can take some time or trying to find that balance in a relationship and stuff and I do find that, when I did speak to him, it feels like it wasn’t that long ago that I was playing for him. So time flies and stuff and I think that will help it be a smoother transition and easier on my part getting used to things.
Iginla, on whether making it to the Cup Finals with Darryl thirteen years ago feels like “yesterday”:
A little bit of both for sure. You know, lots has happened in the last 13 years. I didn’t really think of it that way but at the same time it doesn’t feel like it was that long ago that I was playing for him either or that he was GM also in Calgary. Yeah time flies and I wouldn’t have thought it was that long ago but yeah, as a coach, we really enjoyed the success playing for him that we had as a group and personally and when you’re winning, it’s great. He lets you know all the good things and when you’re not, I imagine he hasn’t changed too much. That’s the way he wins and he’s not scared at all to communicate it and let you know what he feels, which I think is a good thing. I think as a player you want to know if you’re playing up to the standards that they’re hoping for and you’ll feel good but sometimes you’re not sure when it’s not going well and it’s nice to know if there’s more expected or if they’d like something different so I think the communication is a great part.
Iginla, on whether LA was the only team he was interested in joining:
No it was more like Joe and my agent Don Meehan, from my understanding, they were just going to go back and forth and both of them would work on it and keep an open line of communication. I didn’t give any specific list of teams or anything and when they got closer they would just let me know when they thought it would be a good fit and the possibility and … I heard different ideas and possibilities but LA was one that I heard about first and also one that I did get very excited about it and just to go with that because I think, obviously their track record, their success as an organization and the guys that they have there, I jumped at it.
Iginla, on whether he knows Kopitar, Gaborik or Brown from previous All-star games:
Yeah you get the chance to meet the guys at the All-star Game like you said, so sometimes just at some of the international events you might see them around. Maybe the athletes’ village or anything like that but also just around the rink, you know? Just from over the years. I’ve met them, I’ve heard great things and you have mutual friends and stuff so I kind of do feel like I know them a bit just from playing and also competing against them on the ice over the years. So I don’t know them well but I do feel like I do know them and Kopi reached out to me and welcomed me and I appreciate that. No I think, I don’t know as far as lines. I haven’t gotten any information there but I think whoever plays with them, they’re players who make the people that play with them better and if that is an opportunity that’s awesome. I look forward to, if that is, working hard and trying to help them succeed.
Iginla, on why he thinks things went “sideways” in Colorado:
Well I don’t know if there’s any one answer. It obviously wasn’t the year, it was a very tough year for all of us as players and as an organization. I think that it got worse when EJ got hurt for three months, Erik Johnson. He plays our most minutes and he’s a defenseman and we couldn’t afford to lose and I don’t know that we would be in the playoffs but we kind of spiraled from there and it just got worse. Then you lose your confidence as a group and you get in these close games and lose in third periods. We weren’t getting it done and it just snowballed and all of a sudden we had some terrible streaks and I think that they’ll be able to turn it around quickly. Just seeing EJ back in the last couple of days brings a lot of confidence to the group and some steps in the right direction and gets the puck out of our own zone a lot easier and creates a lot more offense for our group. So I think that Colorado will be able to turn it around quicker and I guess that’s the cap era, too, where you can make a couple quick moves and they have some world class players but I don’t have the one answer for you. It was definitely a tough year, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they bounce back with a much, much better year and hopefully all the young guys and everyone who has been a part of it has learned from it because it’s tough. I hadn’t gone through that in my career. I’ve missed the playoffs a number of times but at the end of the year you’re battling and you’re close but this was a tough go all the way around and being out for that long, it was something that hopefully the young guys never have to experience again and learn from it.
Iginla, on whether this trade was easier than any of his previous trades:
Yeah it was. The first time leaving Calgary was a huge adjustment and it was the only organization I had known and the city. And it was great, but it wasn’t an easy decision and it was a little more nerve-racking for sure and a lot of the unknowns in going in to a dressing room for the first time as a new guy. So this time around being in a few different organizations you get a little more used to the change. And you know, you realize it before and guys tell you but there’s a lot of good guys in the NHL and all of the teams are happy to get the new guys and welcoming but you have to kind of go through it to feel it because it is awkward or a little bit different at first. You get a little more used to it and this time, you know, I don’t know how much longer I’m going to play. I’m thrilled to get another shot at playing in competitive games and — I don’t know if that answered your question.
Iginla, on “how much he’s got left in the tank”:
Yeah, it’s been a hard year production-wise and like I was saying, and team-wise and I’m hoping and I believe that I can get better. You know, as far as what’s left in the tank, I mean, I judge a lot of this by some games you don’t feel like you have the energy or the spark and I still have the desire. My energy doesn’t really feel like it’s the issue. I’ve had a couple really cold stretches and stuff so confidence-wise I was probably battling the puck a little bit more than when it’s going well and not in a groove. But I think those are things that can change and like I said, my energy and my desire and I look forward to competing and battling in the corners, in front of the net and doing those things. I don’t feel tired in that areas so I think I can still be effective and get better than I have been and produce more than I have and I look forward to that challenge and that opportunity to do so. We have about a quarter of a season left and try to do what I can to help and contribute to the team for the playoff push and hopefully a long playoff run.
Iginla, on whether the Kings are Stanley Cup contenders:
I really do, yes. I really believe that. And I think that it’s not just the goalies, the chemistry they have a group and world class players they have on the team and that have won before. I remember seeing Doughty right after he won his last one and saying how hungry he was for another one. When talking to guys it’s addictive. Sometimes you think from the outside that you wouldn’t want to just get comfortable and relax but from the stories I hear form guys and watching his interviews from back then, you know, they’re hungry and I think they’re a team that wants the playoffs and their battle and their compete level and their grinding level, I think the playoffs suits them well and they’ve proven that so I think yes, absolutely. They have the drive to win it and I think, been watching them for the last however many years, I’ve always felt watching them once the playoffs hit they have that shot and are one of the picks that I would always think could go all the way. So yeah I believe that, and yeah I’m excited to join them and be a part of it.
Iginla, on whether it’ll be “weird” to fight against Calgary for a playoff spot:
No, not in sports. That’s kind of part of the fun and it is funny all the different story lines being a part of sports and stuff. No, I think it’s great. Now, when you’re going to the other side it’s not personal but yeah I’d like to catch them and I saw in the schedule I think we play them three or four more times in the year. I think that’s great, I love the atmosphere of that and the atmosphere there and I think it’ll be fun.