Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 06/08/13 at 02:15 AM ET
The Pittsburgh Penguins are not exactly the NHL's most beloved team, and there was some irony--and even this Red Wings fan will admit that I felt really badly for him--in the fact that Jarome Iginla's biggest contribution to the Penguins' Eastern Conference Final series against a team he was nearly traded to in the Boston Bruins involved tipping Dennis McQuaid's series-winning goal past Tomas Vokoun.
The Penguins face many difficult decisions in terms of coaching (I don't think they should fire Dan Bylsma, but that's just one person's opinion) and player personnel going forward. According to Capgeek.com, the Penguins have $7.8 million in cap space under the $64.3 million cap to attempt to re-sign three RFA's (Tyler Kennedy's the most noteworthy name of the bunch) and seven unrestricted free agents-to-be, including Brenden Morrow, Pascal Dupuis, Matt Cooke, Craig Adams, Douglas Murray, Mark Eaton and Iginla, so it's pretty obvious that not all of the above will return to aid what was essentially a, "Load up for a one-and-done run at the Cup" campaign by Penguins GM Ray Shero.
Iginla (who, it must be mentioned, sold his house in Calgary and appears to not want to return to Cowtown as the Flames embark upon a rebuilding process) told the Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch that he enjoyed his time in Pittsburgh, though he was bitterly disappointed by the way things turned out:
“I’m very fortunate to get the chance to come to (Pittsburgh) and you want this opportunity,” said Iginla, who becomes an unrestricted free agent July 5 and will have to live with his decision to join the ill-fated Penguins for the rest of his career.
“You want an opportunity to be in the conference finals and have a chance to win and we had that chance. The Bruins played very well, they’re a very good team. I was fortunate to have that choice and when you make it you definitely believe in the guys here and we played some great hockey up until this last series.”
Iginla said it hurt more that he didn’t perform up expectations in the Eastern Conference final. He was hardly noticeable, looked like he was having a tough time keeping up and certainly didn’t give the Penguins what they bargained for when they made the deal. He'll get a job on the free agent market, but his stock certainly didn't go up.
Iginla earned $7 million this past season--or whatever 48 games' worth of his pro-rated salary adds up to--and as the vast majority of the teams deemed to be "contenders" finding themselves closer to the Cap than not, with many of their own players to re-sign, Iginla's going to have to take a significant pay cut to find future employment.
“I don’t know what the answer is but I didn’t get anything going for the group,” he said. “It stings not playing well in this last series. These four games I just didn’t play very well. That’s when you want to play your best for the team and you want to find ways to contribute and be part of those close games and help go the other way.”
There's an internet meme going around regarding Iginla. It involves Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and the knight from the round table stating that Iginla, "Chose poorly." I'm not sure if that's true or not, but as someone who's going to turn 36 on July 1st, Iginla's career's definitely at a crossroads.
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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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