In 1995, the Calgary Flames felt they were not going to win a Stanley Cup in the near future but also knew they had proven assets that could fetch some good, young talent. At the same time, the Dallas Stars thought they had a legitimate shot at winning a championship but they had a decision to make. Do they give up a potential franchise player to acquire a veteran that could put them over the top? It was the definition of a 'present-for-future' type of deal.
Eventually, the Stars pulled the trigger and acquired Joe Nieuwendyk from the Flames for the player they took in the first round from the previous summer's draft, Jarome Iginla.
The Stars were certain Iginla was going to be a good player but they had to give up something to get something.
Dallas went on to win the Stanley Cup in 1998-99 with Nieuwendyk winning the Conn Smythe Trophy and the Flames acquired a player who will likely score his 500th career goal this season. To borrow a cliche that seldom rings true in trades, it was 'win-win.'
Fast forward to 2011 - and the Flames could be looking at the same situation. With the team sitting in 13th place in the Western Conference and eight points out of a playoff spot, Iginla is now the veteran player who could provide that missing ingredient to a Stanley Cup contender - not the future star to build a team around.
"Jarome Iginla would never admit it, but he's thinking about the possibility of life without the Calgary Flames," writes Eric Francis in the Calgary Sun. "So say several sources close to the longtime Flames captain who believe the 34-year-old winger is quietly struggling with the realization his dreams of winning a Stanley Cup will not play out in Calgary."
Iginla, meanwhile has not changed his stance on wanting to remain with the Flames, saying he believes the team can turn the season around.
So is now the time for the Flames to trade their captain?
Iginla has struggled this season, scoring seven goals and tallying 11 points in 22 games with a minus-8. He's on pace for his lowest goal total since 1997-98 and that was ironically the year before the Stars won the Stanley Cup.
Some may say it's an easy decision. The Flames have a diminishing asset that could be peddled into future riches. After all, it's worked for them in the past.
And despite his recent struggles, there would be no shortage of teams lined up to acquire the services of a player who has scored 30 goals or more for 10 straight seasons. Not to mention his three Olympic appearances, which show his ability to perform on the biggest stages.
But is it really that easy of a decision? Jarome Iginla is synonymous with the Calgary Flames. Short of winning a Stanley Cup, he has exceeded most expectations the organization placed on him when he was acquired in 16 years ago.
He is the face of the franchise, both on and off the ice and players of his ilk do not come around very often. Trading him away could result in a loss of leadership in the dressing room when it may be needed most. It could also result in some negative feedback from the community in dealing the most recognizable athlete in the city.
With his contract due to expire at the end of next season, the team is faced with the possibility of eventually losing him for nothing. But for Flames fans, the memory of a previous franchise-changing trade may still be too fresh to advise another.
In January of last year, the team dealt Dion Phaneuf to Toronto for a package of players aimed at making the team more balanced and competitive. While Phaneuf - and Keith Aulie - are on the Leafs blueline, the Flames are left with only struggling centre Matt Stajan as a result of that blockbuster.
While the team has come under new management since that deal, the memory of it may be a vivid reminder to fans of why franchise-changing deals are not always a win-win situation.
So, should the Flames trade their most valuable asset in Jarome Iginla in order to acquire talent for the future? Or should they hang on to their captain and proverbial face of the franchise?
As always, it's Your! Call.