Calgary Flames fans, alumni and those who know Jarome Iginla best already knew he was Hall-of-Fame material.
On Wednesday afternoon, another Calgary legend, Lanny McDonald, made it official.
Iginla, along with Ken Holland, Marian Hossa, Kim St. Pierre, Doug Wilson and Kevin Lowe make up the 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee class.
“It’s something that makes you reflect so much,” Iginla said after the announcement.
“It’s hard to believe… Getting a call from Lanny was a huge honour. Such an amazing club to be a part of, and it’s also kind of the end of the journey.”
The 42-year-old St. Albert native leads the Calgary Flames in all-time goals (525), points (1,095) and games played (1,209) and he wore the “C” for the Flames for a decade. Through his entire 1,554 game career, Iginla tallied 625 goals, enough to tie Joe Sakic for the 16th in league history.
Iginla is synonymous with some of hockey’s biggest moments, not just in Calgary, but at the international level too.
He won two Olympic gold medals, famously assisting Sidney Crosby’s golden goal in Vancouver in 2010.
The power forward established himself as a goal-scoring whiz and bulldozer on the ice, but his legacy extends beyond the numbers.
“You knew you didn’t want to really kind of poke the bear because if he got mad, it was gonna be a long night for the opposing team,” said Craig Conroy, the Flames’ assistant general manager and Iginla’s former teammate.
“But when you talk to people outside, once he’s out of the rink, just what a good person he is. You know how nice he is. Everyone loves him.”
McDonald recalled a moment on a southeastern U.S. road trip that he feels sums up Iginla’s character.
As players exited the rink to get onto a bus, McDonald waited outside to sign autographs for waiting kids. No other players had stopped.
“Jarome walks right by me and onto the bus,” McDonald recalls. “He went on the team bus and told every teammate, ‘Get off the bus and sign autographs for the kids for a few minutes and then we’ll leave,’ and that told me a whole lot about Jarome, [the] kind of a person he is [and] what he stands for.”
It’s a habit that stuck with Iginla throughout his career.
“That’s what makes him special,” Conroy added. “He didn’t have to do that.
“You see a lot of guys nowadays, they just kind of run from the bus into the rink. Jarome took the time and you wish more guys would do that too, because it does mean so much.”
Another habit that stuck? Being late.
Notorious for being the last one on a plane or bus, Iggy even missed his Hall of Fame phone call. Hey, nobody’s perfect.
“Seriously, he was late for every team bus,” Conroy laughed. “We always had to wait for him. So it doesn’t surprise me. That’s just fitting really.”
Iginla becomes the fourth Black person to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and the second as a player, after Grant Fuhr. Willie O’Ree and Angela James were inducted as builders.
Speaking to Global News Morning Calgary on Thursday, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Iginla is one of his two favourite Flames, along with Lanny McDonald.
“There is a real good case to be made that Jarome Iginla is the greatest Flames players that has ever put his skates out on the ice,” Nenshi said. “He inspired so many of us.
“Especially in the context that we’re dealing with in the world right now, Jarome also showed a lot of young people who may have thought that hockey wasn’t for people who looked like them, that there is a place in hockey for them, that hockey can work for people of very different backgrounds.
“I could not be happier for him and his family right now,” he added.
The 2020 Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 16 in Toronto.