Jarome Iginla is making his Penguins debut today!
The newly acquired winger will be in the Penguins lineup when they host the New York Islanders at CONSOL Energy Center at 1 p.m.
Iginla left Calgary Friday, but travel didn’t go smoothly. He was held up in Calgary, which forced him to miss his connecting flight in Chicago. But the Penguins were able to send a plane and get him to his new city late last night.
|Jarome Iginla (Getty Images)
Despite the late-night arrival and afternoon contest today, Iginla just wanted to get on the ice with his new team as quickly as possible.
“It would be tough,” Iginla said of how it would feel if he had to sit out. “It’s felt a little bit weird the last few days of transition and kind of being in limbo and waiting. It’s great to just get here and be part of the team. Once you get back on the ice, just to get back playing – looking forward to that.
“I talked to coach (Dan Bylsma) yesterday while traveling in. He said I could play today and I was thrilled about that. ... It’s nice that it’s an afternoon game. Not have to deal with (the nerves and excitement) throughout the afternoon. Looking forward to getting going.”
The only issue for Iginla is that he didn't have his normal game-day attire. He joked that he sneaked into the arena earlier than usual so no one would see him in street clothes and not a suit.
"I didn’t have my suit and stuff early, so I got here a little earlier than everyone else could see because those bags didn’t quite make it yet, but that’s all right," he laughed.
Bylsma said he thought about whether or not to play Iginla, but at the end of the day, how do you hold a future Hall of Famer out of the lineup when he’s healthy and anxious to get on the ice?
“I had my own thoughts and asked a couple players yesterday about if I called them up right now and asked if they wanted to play, they were all 100 percent to get in the lineup,” Bylsma said. “When I called Jarome, we talked. He said if you can make a spot for me I want to get on that ice with our team. Is it ideal that he flew yesterday, got in last night? It’s not the perfect situation, but I know 100 percent he wanted to be on the ice today with the team. We’re happy to put him in there.”
Iginla will play on a line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal. Bylsma said that even though Iginla is a right-handed shot that has played the majority of his career on the right wing, he will play on the left side today. And Iginla is fine with that.
“I remember way back starting when I came in (the league), I switched wings and got a chance to play with Theo Fleury,” Iginla said. “He was a right winger and I switched to left. So different times I’ve played left. Very happy to try it and I think I can do it. But whatever coach thinks. I look forward to trying it and trying it at different times and trying different positions, it’s a lot easier than making the shift to center or whatever. Right or left I don’t think is that much different.”
Bylsma said that will put Brenden Morrow on left wing of the third line with Matt Cooke switching to the right and Brandon Sutter playing center.
Pittsburgh announced that they had acquired the legendary Flames captain in the early hours of the morning on Thursday after Iginla had been a healthy scratch in Calgary’s game on Wednesday night for precautionary reasons as the team finalized trade details.
Prior to not playing on Thursday, Iginla played in 441 consecutive games – not missing a contest since the finale of the 2006-07 season. An immigration issue held up his arrival until late Friday.
: Defenseman Paul Martin has been placed on Injured Reserve with an upper body injury. He has a broken bone that will require surgery. He’s on a six-week recovery timeline.
Written by Michelle Crechiolo and Sam Kasan