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McKenna: Flames fans express support via Twitter, Facebook

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Kate McKenna
3/28/2013 5:52:57 PM
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He is beloved, that much is clear.

On Twitter, on Facebook, on storefronts and in sports bars, Calgary Flames fans expressed support for Jarome Iginla - the player they'd watched grow from an 18-year-old boy to a 35-year-old captain, whose jersey they'd worn with pride for so many years.

It didn't seem to matter that he'd been traded to a team that will, very likely, make a much deeper Cup run than their own; that fans in Pittsburgh will get to claim him as theirs; that he was leaving by choice.

There was barely so much as an ounce of resentment.

"So sad to see him go, but could not be happier he is going to the Pens," tweeted one fan.

"Jarome Iginla is an absolute class act," tweeted another. "Hope he wins his well-deserved Cup in Pits."

That sentiment was common on Twitter, with many adopting the hashtag #ThankYouIggy to share messages of appreciation.

Calgary hockey fans weren't the only ones using Twitter to express support. The Calgary Flames sent a message to the Pittsburgh Penguins from their official account, saying "You now have another living legend in your midst. Take care of our captain. Signed, Calgary."

Even Prime Minister Stephen Harper got in on it, tweeting, "Jarome Iginla is a class act, a proud Canadian, and an all-time Flames great. Thanks for everything, Jarome."

The abundance of support seemed to have to do as much with Iginla's on ice-efforts as his off-ice ones, with fans reminiscing about both the hockey player and the human being.

A local Lululemon store even changed their storefront to include mannequins in Flames jerseys with the wording, "Iginla + Crosby= Stanley" and "We Will Miss You. Go Find Stanley," written on the glass.

Why? "Because he's a big part of our community. We're really sad to see him go but we're really supportive of his career," said Katie, a store employee.

David Fida, general manager of Melrose, a bar on the famed Red Mile, shares that sentiment.

"He's been such a great advocate and good supporter of the community on and off the ice," he said. "He's done so much for Calgary in his years being here that he's built such loyalty and such a fan base.  Fans aren't angry at him for leaving; they want him to have that opportunity to win a Cup."

"He's always been such a class act. He's easily approachable, well-spoken and one heck of a hockey player," said Ben D'Andrea, a Calgary resident and longtime Flames fan. "I'm happy to see him get another shot at a cup. Everyone here is rooting for him and secretly hoping that we'll see him back before he retires."

Iginla's goodbye press conference did, at times, feel like a retirement, something the hockey star himself noted more than once. It wasn't, though, and within the next few days fans will get their first glimpse at a new reality- Iginla in black and gold- but that won't stop fans like Fida from wearing their Jarome Iginla sweaters- the red, black and gold edition.

"I'm going to wear that jersey, even with his number on it, very proudly to every game," he said. "To me it's not a waste of a jersey."

Not a waste because Iginla, through his play and his character, has become a figure that those in Calgary love to root for and though they'll always root for their Flames, you can bet that on games nights there'll be some Penguins jerseys in the crowd that weren't there before, with Iginla written across the back.

Jarome Iginla (Photo: Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Dale MacMillan/Getty Images)
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