Last night in the Bruins' season opener, Boston fans got their first real look at new right winger Jarome Iginla, who famously spurned the team one year earlier at the trade deadline in favor of Pittsburgh. I have to imagine all was forgiven when Iggy dropped the gloves with Tampa defenseman Radko Gudas – that's Big, Bad, Bruins hockey after all.
But looking back at the records (by which I mean Hockeyfights.com), a strange trend has emerged with the legendary power forward: He only fights kids now.
Five of the past six tilts Iginla participated in – all initiated by him – were against players with less than 82 games under their belt. The only fight against a fellow veteran was when he duked it out with Nathan Horton last season.
Otherwise, here are his opponents:
Radko Gudas – Still Calder-eligible after playing 22 games with the Bolts last season. Gudas fought twice last year as a result of big, thunderous hits he threw.
Cody Eakin – Iginla was his first NHL fight, coming in his sophomore season. Though Eakin had played only 30 the year prior, so even though he wasn't Calder eligible at the time, he was pretty close. (http://www.hockeyfights.com/fights/116927)
Antoine Roussel – Also his first NHL fight. Roussel's an agitating sort and went on to spar six more times, but he's also just 5-foot-11 and 192 pounds. Iginla is 6-foot-1, 210 pounds. (http://www.hockeyfights.com/fights/115882)
Nick Johnson – Back in 2011-12, Johnson's second-ever scrap was against Iginla. He had less than 30 games experience spread over three seasons at the time. (http://www.hockeyfights.com/fights/106578)
Adam Henrique – The Devils rookie ran afoul of Iginla after he blasted the veteran with a clean hit. Henrique has fought just once since, in the playoffs against the Rangers' Ryan McDonagh. (http://www.hockeyfights.com/fights/108678)
So what's the deal? Has Iginla turned into Gran Torino Clint Eastwood, giving whippersnappers their comeuppance? Or is he just a bully now?