Truly in class all by himself

ERIC FRANCIS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:44 AM ET

It was the kind of moment fans dream of being part of.

The classiest player on the classiest of franchises becomes the team's all-time leading scorer in his home rink.

Seven minutes into the second period of last night's shootout with Tampa, Jarome Iginla initiated a brilliant tic-tac-toe passing play for a Mike Cammalleri powerplay goal that appeared to vault him ahead of Theo Fleury on the club's scoring list.

Well aware he'd racked up his record-tying 830th point with a goal one period earlier, the crowd sprung to its collective feet for a stirring ovation during which the Sea of Red hit playoff-like decibels.

The humble Iginla went to the bench, received congratulations from everyone, including equipment manager Gus Thorson, and was then sent back onto the ice to receive his due. He waved politely to the crowd, lined up on the wing and the puck was dropped, abruptly diminishing the goosebumps forming citywide as part of as magical a 90-second moment as the Dome has ever seen.

Only one man in Calgary wanted the ovation to subside and the game to go on -- Iginla himself. Telling you everything you need to know about how humble and selfless the game's best captain is, Iginla asked team officials beforehand not to stop the game.

"It's a team thing and I didn't want any stopping," said Iginla, in his aw-shucks kinda way.

"It's a special thing and it means a lot to me -- especially at home. But we're going well and you don't want a distraction. The crowd was cheering and I appreciate that, but I want to keep going. That was enough for me."

Did he well up like so many in attendance?

"No tears," he laughed.

"I wouldn't admit it if I did anyway."

Fact is, the celebration amounted to little more than a faux-vation as it was announced in the press box moments later -- while the crowd chanted "Ig-gy, Ig-gy" -- that Iginla had indeed broken the record five minutes earlier.

The point everyone showed up to see actually came on an Iginla pass from the corner to the point, where a Dion Phaneuf wrister was redirected in by Iginla's best pal Craig Conroy. While everyone in the crowd stood after the goal asking, "was that from Iggy?" league officials upstairs were terrified to award the big point without extensive review.

The goal was announced without his assist added.

Iginla gave club officials strict pre-game instructions not to award any phantom assists, prompting a lengthy review as the game resumed to determine if Cammalleri touched the puck on its way back to Phaneuf. He hadn't.

Too late -- the moment was lost.

"Cammy told me on the bench he didn't touch that one, so I figured that was probably going to be (the record-breaker). I wasn't picky. I was excited to get it," said Iginla, who went on to record his 400th goal as part of a five-point night somewhat diminished by an 8-6 loss against Tampa -- the kind Fleury knew well in the '90s.

"I remember when Theo got (the record) -- we were very excited for him. Things go by fast. I wasn't thinking, 'maybe one day ...' It just kind of happened."

With everyone in attendance hoping he'd break the record before tomorrow's seven-game road trip, Iginla had a magical evening against the club that robbed him of his Stanley Cup dream five years earlier.

Yet, he didn't want anyone to make a fuss of it.

"That's his personality," said Conroy. "He didn't talk about it on the bench. He appreciated it but just wanted it to get going again. If I had done it, I would wanted it to last 20 or 30 minutes -- a lot longer than it went on for. Soak it all in."

The fans wanted that, too.

Despite the pauses that should and shouldn't have been a part of the evening, his five-point effort will be remembered for decades.

His brilliance and class will be remembered much longer than that.


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