Big welcome from Lanny

Jarome Iginla is cheered on just moments after scoring his 500th goal Saturday night. (AL...

Jarome Iginla is cheered on just moments after scoring his 500th goal Saturday night. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)

Randy Sportak, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:20 AM ET

Lanny McDonald is no longer alone in the club, and he’s thrilled to welcome Jarome Iginla into the fraternity.

For nearly 23 years, McDonald had the distinction of being the lone player to score his 500th goal while playing for the Calgary Flames.

Iginla joined McDonald with his third-period tally in Saturday’s 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild, not only in the exclusive 500-goal club but also having done it while skating for the Flames.

“It’s fabulous,” McDonald said Sunday morning. “Thank God for two things — he did it at home, and, more importantly, a game-winner in a winning cause.

“It still would have been great but would have taken something off it had it come in a 9-1 loss (in Boston two nights earlier) instead of it being 9-0. It’s fitting to a guy who has meant so much — not only to the hockey club but the city, as well.”

McDonald was on-hand at the Saddledome and witnessed Iginla’s milestone goal, which made him the 42nd player in NHL history to reach that prestigious standard. And McDonald is among the army of well-wishers to send his kudos to the Flames captain.

“I had to leave right after the game and head for another function, so I left a message for Jarome on his cell phone as soon as the game was over and called him again this morning and left another just to congratulate him,” McDonald said. “I couldn’t be happier and proud of him for what he’s accomplished.”

When Iginla scored his 500th goal, he not only became the first player to join the 500-goal club since Keith Tkachuk did it April 6, 2008, but he also moved into a tie with McDonald for 41st spot on the all-time list.

McDonald became just the 14th player in NHL history to hit 500 when he scored his milestone marker on March 21, 1989, and it was his last regular-season tally. It came shortly after he collected his 1,000th career point and just a couple of months before hoisting the Stanley Cup, a perfect conclusion to his hall-of-fame career.

Since then, the man with the famous moustache has watched Iginla develop into the face of the franchise.

Iginla has done it with the class and dignity McDonald has always shown, too.

“To see how he has handled himself both on the ice and off the ice — always made himself available to (the media) in good times and tough times — I think that’s not only a sign of a great hockey player but a great person,” McDonald said. “You take your credit when it’s due, but you are the first one to stand up when tough times are there and stand in for your teammates — whether it’s answering questions or dropping the gloves to let it be known you are about the team — that’s exactly how he is.”

Soon enough, Iginla will surpass McDonald on the NHL’s all-time goal list, but McDonald can at least say his milestone goal was prettier. He scored No. 500 with a patented wraparound. Iginla’s pass attempt banked off the skates of two Wild players before going into the net Saturday night.

Then again, McDonald was quick to point out the beauty is getting there and not how you finish the climb.

“The bottom line is you found a way to get to 500,” McDonald said. “Look at the list of guys in that area of 450 to 498, like Glenn Anderson or Darryl Sitter — those guys would have taken how many bounces you need to get to 500. It really does tell you to appreciate it, and the fans should appreciate what he’s accomplished, and all in Calgary.”

Iginla’s achievement has also allowed McDonald to trip down memory lane and what it means to be part of the select group.

“It’s an honour and a privilege,” McDonald added. “When you look at the names on that list and realize there are only 41 other guys, it is pretty cool to be on that list.”

randy.sportak@sunmedia.ca

On Twitter: @SUNRandySportak


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