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Ice Hockey’s Jarome Iginla On the Fast Track to Hall of Fame

Hockey is the fastest moving game! Jarome Iginla contends, “It’s very quick. Things happen, you know, just bang, bang. And if you’re second guessing, you start to miss passes.”

It’s understandable then that Jarome hardly has time now to process the historic mark he’ll leave behind when he’s done playing. He says, “I’ve definitely been very blessed to play as long as I have and it’s gone by fast.”

The Colorado Avalanche Power Forward is on a fast track for a Hall of Fame career. Only 18 other NHL players have scored more career goals than Iginla, a 6-time All-Star who’s averaged over 32 per season over 18 years.

But is he able to relish the achievements while he’s still playing?  “I am. I am starting to savor it a little bit more,” Jarome says. “Each goal, each win, going to different buildings, the rivalries, the excitement - it is something. I try to catch myself, you know, in the warm-ups, when you’re on the line and the anthem and you get to some milestones and stuff. It’s such a neat experience. And I realize it’s not going to last forever.”

As the finish line approaches, his career is defined as a competitor.  Jarome explains, “Once I get on the ice, and once I get in the game, I love competing. I love to be out there. You’re alongside your teammates and we all do different roles but we all have the same goal - stick with it, keep battling, keep working.”

Statistics aside, Jarome maintains that rare combination of consistency and excellence.

Avalanche Head Coach and Hall of Fame Goalie Patrick Roy says, “He certainly could leave a great legacy to our team. I mean, I think our young players could learn a lot from him - the way he comes to play. They will one day say – ‘he was a special player.’”

So what are the requirements to be consistently excellent? Iginla believes, “It’s about working hard, trying to work harder than the next guy. Push yourself. And it’s preparation. I try to give myself the best chance. I believe in God, stay close, and pray daily. I have to pray, believe, and do the work. Once I go on the ice, I do the best I can and I leave it. If the goalie saves my first shot, my next shot’s going in.”

And they have - 589 times - and counting! After spending his first 16 seasons with the Calgary Flames, Jarome learned to adjust to transition and new teams over the past 2 1/2 years, with brief runs in Pittsburgh, Boston, and now Denver. “I feel like I grew. It was the first time leaving to a new team, having to be the new guy. But I got to see the other side of it. How it is when a guy gets traded, I know how they felt coming in to the teams over the years. So I feel like I’ve got to learn a lot. I’m where I’m supposed to be. My family and I are where we’re supposed to be. It’s been an adventure, and now being here in Colorado with a young group, the goal is to win. It’s been fun. So, I think God does have a plan.”

Jarome is a rare player, a hockey icon whose Hall of Fame induction only awaits. Until then, the man chooses to live in the ever-present moment, with his faith as solid as the ice he skates on.

“A legacy, or things like that, I’ve never really been a big thinker in that way. You know, it’s kind of just been trying to go each day. So I don’t really try to think what I am going to leave behind so much as just try to do the best we can today and enjoy it and to be joyful and experience that.”

“I believe He [Jesus] lived two thousand years ago. I believe He died for us, and I believe He is there for us and we can lean on Him - and I do!”

His reliance through faith began as a teen while searching for spiritual assurance.

“My mom’s actually a Buddhist.  My dad’s a Christian and he was a Muslim, but he converted to Christianity. One of my best friends, we were rooming together at a hockey tournament. He’s like, you know, ‘do you believe there is a God?’ And I’m like ‘yeah, yeah, I do.’ ‘Well, what if when you die well, that’s it?’ And for whatever reason, it just got me. It just bothered me. And I remember talking to my dad once, and I explained it to him. He’s like ‘well why don’t you ask Jesus to answer that to you? He says if you ask Him, come into your life, give you peace with that question, if He gives you it, you’ve gained everything, and if He doesn’t, what have you lost?’ And I did and I had peace. It just gave me so much more faith.”

In a profession measured by numerical achievement, leave it to one of hockey’s most accomplished players – Jarome Iginla – to aim beyond accolades for greater reward.

“Life goes fast. It goes so fast. And it’s going to be. What gives me comfort is that, that’s all right. I hope one day I don’t just look back and say ‘when I was in the NHL, that was the peak.’ And that’s part of the trust. Do I think I’ll win a Stanley Cup? I believe I will. I think we will. I’m gonna do my best. And at the end of the day that’ll have to be good enough. God’s been good to me. And it’s been the time of my life. You know, heaven is going to be even better. One day will be even greater.”

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