Ig's great to be 30-something

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:23 AM ET

DETROIT — At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss another 30-goal season by Jarome Iginla as just another year.

Give it some of the ‘been-there, done-that’ treatment.

But it’s a big deal Iginla reached the 30-goal mark in Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild, because it’s the ninth straight season he’s reached that feat.

Only nine players in NHL history have reached the 30-goal plateau for 10 straight seasons, so the 32-year-old has a chance to join some truly elite company.

“I don’t look at it too closely. I hope to play a lot more years and be a contributor and in my 30s still be going,” Iginla said before scoring in Tuesday night’s 4-2 win over the host Detroit Red Wings.

“I’ve been fortunate to play at a time where guys have learned more about health and working out and the travel and all that stuff is better, so I hope to play longer and be successful.”

Jaromir Jagr and Mike Gartner scored 30 or more goals in 15 straight seasons. Others who’ve enjoyed longer runs than Iginla are Wayne Gretzky (13), Phil Esposito (13), Bobby Hull (13), Marcel Dionne (12), Jari Kurri (10), Mike Bossy (10) and Darryl Sittler (10).

Brett Hull’s shot at 10-straight 30-goal seasons was stopped by the 1994-95 lockout in which the NHL season was only 48 games. He scored 29 times. Bobby Hull’s run ended because he bolted to the WHA, where he proceeded to score 50 or more goals in each of the next four seasons.

It takes a lot of talent and a lot of determination and a lot of luck to get to a decade’s worth of 30-goal seasons.

“Pretty impressive,” said former teammate Todd Bertuzzi, the now-Detroit Red Wings forward who also witnessed Iginla’s exploits while with the Vancouver Canucks. “The word that comes to mind is consistency, and for any athlete, that’s a tag they would like to their name. He works his tail off and wants to win. It’s nice to see that.”

The 440 career goals Iginla has after Tuesday’s game in Detroit has him 61st on the NHL’s all-time list, tied with Rick Tocchet.

Rick Vaive and Steve Larmer collected 441 in their careers. Iginla also has Rick Middleton (448) and a trio of players with 450 goals — Rod Brind’Amour, Peter Stastny and Doug Gilmour — in his sights.

A spree between now and the end of the season could put him right behind former Flames star Theo Fleury, who sits at No. 53 on the all-time list with 455.

Iginla’s 70 game-winning goals has him 34th on that list, one back of still-active Keith Tkachuk and with Stephane Richer (72), Joe Mullen (73) and Dino Ciccarelli (73) between him and a spot in the top 30.

Even if Iginla doesn’t always have consistency during the season, he has incredible consistency season to season. He scored 29 and 28 times in the two seasons prior to his run which began in the 2000-01 campaign.

On the horizon is the magical 500-goal milestone, which has been reached by 41 players.

“I would like to hit it — I hope to,” Iginla said. “Before I played in the NHL, and when I started, you’d see guys hit 500 and realize there are only so many that have done it.

“It’s a milestone I’d love (to reach), but it’s a long ways off.

“It’s kind of like 1,000 games — you just keep playing and enjoy it and all of a sudden it was there. It came pretty quickly without thinking about it.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca


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