March 28, 2013 12:51 pm

Jarome Iginla thanks fans in farewell news conference at Saddledome

CALGARY – Jarome Iginla has thanked his thousands of loyal fans, in a farewell news conference at the Scotiabank Saddledome.

The 35-year-old was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday for college forwards Kenneth Agostino and Ben Hanowski and Pittsburgh’s first-round pick at the 2013 draft.

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News of his departure didn’t come as much of a surprise, with Iginla in the final year of his contract and the playoffs slipping away for the Flames. The team is currently 14th in the Western Conference, and facing a fourth straight season of playoff-free hockey.

Iginla talked to reporters on Thursday for the first time since being dealt to the Penguins, saying he wished the Flames had more success while he was their captain.

“I wanted us to ultimately win … over the past few years, I really thought we would find a way to get in,” said Iginla. “I wish we had more success.”

The fan favourite, who spent 16 seasons in Calgary, said he’s looking forward to the new challenges he will face in Pittsburg, but is leaving the team with mixed emotions.

“I feel very, very blessed and fortunate to play here as long as I have,” said Iginla. “I never would have dreamt I would get to play here for so long.”

“Thank you to the fans in Calgary.”

Jarome said it was hard saying farewell to his teammates, some of whom were in attendance at his news conference.

“It is very difficult,” he said solemnly, when asked of his farewells. “I wish them the best, the absolute best.”

Iginla’s move to the Penguins means he will be reunited with Sidney Crosby, who he skated with at the 2010 Winter Olympics. Iginla assisted on Crosby’s overtime winner versus the United States that gave Canada the gold medal in men’s hockey.

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