Jarome Iginla was playing in his 1500th NHL game earlier tonight, but the Colorado Avalanche turned in their worst performance ever and lost to my hometown Montréal Canadiens, 10-1.
People criticized Patrick Roy for jumping ship this summer when he left his head coaching position because he felt he didn't have a big enough say on roster decisions despite also being VP of Hockey Operations, and now we see why: Jared Bednar may have been the best coach in the AHL, the Avs are still stuck in last place in the standings.
Iginla would probably among the players Roy kept, but he surely would have sent hot-dogging Matt Duchene packing in an effort to consolidate team leadership and hopefully bolster the defense.
Now in his 20th season, Iginla has captained the Calgary Flames to within a goal of a Stanley Cup championship, was a Calder Trophy runner-up (to Bryan Berard), is a three-time First Team All-Star and one-time Second Team All-Star, a Rocket Richard Trophy (best goal scorer) and Lester B. Pearson (now Ted Lindsay) Award (most valuable player as chosen by his peers) winner, as well as a King Clancy winner for leadership and humanitarian contribution.
He has 614 goals and 665 assists so far, and is 21 points away from the 1300 mark. He is also a highly-decorated member of Team Canada, having won gold at the 1996 World Juniors, the 1997 World Championships, the 2004 World Cup as well as the 2002 and 2010 Olympics.
Because he played hard but never dirty, his name is the one that sticks out in my mind when people talk about "greatest leader", not Mark Messier's.
Here he is climbing up the Flames' leadership ranks, wearing the alternate captain's "A" on their former black "flaming horse" jersey, on card #107 from Pacific's 2003-04 Prism set and Authentic Game-Worn Jersey sub-set, with beautiful gold foil: