"I probably wasn't your typical hockey kid."
"My dad immigrated to Canada from Nigeria, my mom came from Oregon, but once I started hockey with St. Albert minor hockey at age seven, I was hooked, and I wanted to be a hockey player that dreamt of being in the NHL".
Jarome Arthur-Leigh Adekunle Tig Junior Elvis Iginla's dream exceeded well beyond what he could have ever imagined.
Four all-star games, a Rocket Richard Trophy, 625 career goals, Art Ross and Lester B. Pearson awards, Olympic gold medals, one of the faces of the Calgary Flames for 16 seasons with 20 total seasons played in the NHL and now one of the greatest players of his era and icon for diversity in hockey is forever enshrined in the hall of fame.
The St. Albert, Alta native was a part of a 2020 class that also saw Marian Hossa, Kim St-Pierre, Doug Wilson, Kevin Lowe, and Ken Holland inducted. The weekend marked a return of a little bit of normalcy to the hockey event calendar again in Toronto, even if it took a year.
Iginla took pride in being the fourth black inductee into the hall and that living out his dream of playing hockey at its highest level was possible thanks to those who came before him.
"It's a huge honor, growing up when I saw other black players in the NHL, it made me think that the dream of being in the NHL was possible and not having to think you have to break barriers, other guys did it before more," Iginla said. "Willie O'Ree, I looked up to Claude Vilgrain and Grant Fuhr in Edmonton and I got to play with him near the end of his career. I got to play with him in his last game, it was a huge, huge honor and those guys meant a lot to me."
Being the captain of the biggest rival of his hometown team made for funny exchanges, but it also allowed his family to attend many memorable Battle of Alberta contests – and that meant a lot to him.
"It was really special to be able to play in my home province of Alberta," Iginla said. "Family and friends could come down to a lot of games, mom got to be at a ton, grandparents got to be at games, my dad got to go to a lot, my brother and sister got to go, buddies that I minor hockey with I got to share that with. One of the most fun places was me was obviously going to Edmonton and playing in the old Coliseum. I didn't get to see many games growing up there, but I got to play some minor hockey there, I think I saw couple games and it was always special to get to go back there".
The weekend was also special for the many alumni who played against members of the induction class. Long-time NHLer and Toronto Maple Leafs fan-favorite Tomas Kaberle enjoyed playing against Iginla and skating with Hossa in a less-intensive situation than what he was used to.
"I had to chase them for many years. It wasn't easy!" Kaberle said with a laugh.
As quick as Kaberle was to have a joke for what it was like to play against them, he praised the careers of those to get to the Hall of Fame, but also their work in other aspects of the game and other elements of their lives.
"They totally deserve it, they put the work in when they were young during the NHL seasons, even after they're done playing they're doing stuff on and off the ice helping kids, a lot of charities. It's nice to see. They had amazing careers and it's nice to see them as Hockey Hall of Famers."