We may be reaching critical mass in the "Bring back Jarome Iginla" movement.
According to a report from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet, Iginla's agent, Don Meehan, has begun to set up meetings with other teams to discuss his clients future ahead of the start of free agency on July 1. However, Johnston also reported that after playing for three different teams in the past year-plus, Iginla is hesitant to change cities and clubs yet again this late in his career.
CSNNE's Joe Haggerty also reports that B's general manager Peter Chiarelli will meet with the Iginla camp this weekend in Philadelphia to continue negotiations in hopes of banging out a deal between the two parties. But since the season ended last May, the talks the two sides have had so far have not been particularity productive, as we can see today with the report from Sportsnet.
With the Bruins up against the cap and having less than $8 million to sign a multitude of players to the roster, including Torey Krug, Reilly Smith and potentially Matt Bartkowski, GM Peter Chiarelli and the B's have stated that tough decisions are on the way when it comes to shedding payroll in order to make enough room to fit their free agents under the ceiling.
The Bruins are aiming to sign Iginla to a one-year, bonus laced contract similar to the one he signed with Boston last year. Iginla wants the security of at least a two-year contract and more guaranteed money, something that would count against the Bruins cap number directly this season. If the Bruins sign Iginla on their terms, they can push off the potential bonus money earned onto next year's salary cap, when the cap ceiling will increase.
If Iginla takes a trip to free agency, teams with much more cap space can offer Iginla more money and more years than what the Bruins can offer.
Chiarelli spoke with reporters on Monday and described the difficult financial situation ahead of them:
You can mix and match guys and who should stay and who shouldn’t, generally speaking...The decision on Shawn [Thornton] was a very hard one. He’s been here and part of this group for a long time, and that would apply to all these guys who have been here, and who have given us good service, and that have been part of winning teams and Cup-winning teams. There will be hard choices, but it may be that we don’t make hard choices and we keep as many people as we can. We go into the year, and maybe we do make those hard choices as the year progresses.
So what will come of the report that Iginla is ready to chat it up with other teams? Will those teams throw big dollars at Iginla and lure him away from Boston after just one season? One things for sure, banking on Iginla returning to the Black and Gold is far from a sure thing at this point.
Having already let Shawn Thornton walk to free agency, the Bruins have another challenging decision to make with Iginla. The clock is ticking.