Jarome's staying home

The future of Jarome Iginla in Calgary is now secure after signing a five-year contract extension...

The future of Jarome Iginla in Calgary is now secure after signing a five-year contract extension on Wednesday. (Sun File/Jim Wells)

ERIC FRANCIS -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

The comparisons come even easier now that Jarome Iginla has committed to wearing the Flaming C for six more years.

He's now clearly on the verge of breathing the same rarified air as hockey legends Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic -- two of Iggy's heroes who sacrificed plenty to play their whole careers in one place.

But don't say that to Jarome Iginla.

"Obviously, Stevie and Joe are Hall of Famers who've done amazing things and won ... but I don't want to put myself in that (group)," said Iginla, voice trailing off as part of the most genuine of 'aw shucks' reactions.

Truth is, he's in that category.

"My opinion is he is a special guy," said GM Darryl Sutter, echoing the thoughts of anyone who has met the Flames captain.

"Whether as the general manager or somebody who is his neighbour or just a fan, it's pretty obvious that he is a special guy."

Rewarded for 11 years of tenacity, heart, leadership, commitment and community service, Iginla signed the biggest, most-important deal in franchise history yesterday -- a five-year extension worth $35 million US. It includes a no-trade clause, which ensures the cornerstone of the franchise will soon rank tops in every offensive category imaginable. Especially considering he plans to play until 2017.

"I'm halfway through my career," said the 30-year-old fitness fanatic.

"I would love to play until I'm 40. They're going to have to kick me out or tell me I have no use."

Electing to forego unrestricted free agency (again) next summer when he could have garnered at least $8 million a year, Iginla sacrificed several million dollars to stay close to his family in a place he calls home.

"I don't know what the numbers would have been but the big thing is being with a team that you think you can win with," said the Edmonton native.

"Talking to my wife, we did go over options but I've had a great experience in Calgary. The organization is first class, and the owners treat us so well and they're committed to winning. The grass isn't always greener. We all stay in touch with different players who have moved, and they say how good one city is and that they wish they didn't move."

His signing, coupled with that of Robyn Regehr's yesterday, sends a powerful message to a hockey world rife with movement.

"I think it does send a message that people who play in Calgary enjoy it," said Iginla.

"The size of the city and the passion the city has for hockey make it very enjoyable for our families."

Iginla said he likes the moves Sutter has made this summer to add size and grit and admitted he was shocked to hear of Mike Keenan's hiring.

"I've only met him a couple times and you can see his passion," said Iginla who felt like he got to know Keenan by watching Making the Cut.

"I know he's very respected and gotten teams that are close over the edge. We want him to do that with us."

So, Iginla is sticking around.

"I thought I was going to be traded a couple times over the years so I'm very thankful I've gotten the opportunity to stay here through seven years without playoffs and growing pains and changes," he said.

"I was really worried I wouldn't be part of it when we made the playoffs -- that was a huge thrill -- and now I want to be around when we win a Stanley Cup."

Just like Stevie and Joe.


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