Motion to rename arena after Iginla passes first test

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The Akinsdale Arena may be getting a new name to honour a hometown hockey hero.

On Monday night during the St. Albert city council meeting, Coun. Jacquie Hansen proposed renaming the Akinsdale Arena after former National Hockey League player and St. Albertan Jarome Iginla.

“Akinsdale is a very important arena to him and that is the one that he spent most of his days in,” Hansen said.

At the meeting, Hansen said she has been in contact with Iginla. Hansen said in their correspondence, Iginla told her that Akinsdale was his favourite arena growing up.

“The team’s favourite rink was the Akinsdale because it was the nicest and definitely the warmest. He attended his first hockey school ever in Akinsdale because his grandpa enrolled him,” Hansen said.

Coun. Natalie Joly asked Hansen if Iginla or any other community members had expressed a desire for his name to be on a new arena or if he preferred the Akinsdale Arena. Although Hansen she said had not asked Iginla or community stakeholders if he would prefer a new building, she said the Akinsdale Arena was a very important location for him at the beginning of his budding career.

Mayor Cathy Heron said the timing is right to name the arena after Iginla, since he retired earlier this year.

“Who knows when we will have another ice surface to put his name on,” Heron said.

Hansen’s motion will see the arena renamed along with the capital refurbishment of the arena and would use up to $35,00 from the stabilization fund for the initiative.

The St. Albert product is an alumnus of Sir Alexander Mackenzie, Lorne Akins and Paul Kane, and led the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League in scoring as a second-year bantam with the 1992-93 St. Albert Eagle Raiders.

Iginla went on to spend 20 years in the NHL and played 1,554 regular-season games with five NHL teams and officially ended his career in July. The two-time Olympic gold medallist spent the bulk of his career, 16 seasons, with the Calgary Flames where he served nine years as team captain.

The 41-year-old also played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins, Colorado Avalanche and the Los Angeles Kings. Iginla played his last game with the Kings on April 9, 2017.

The forward was the Flames’ all-time leader in goals with 525 scored with the team. He also leads in points with 1,095 and games played with 1,219. The St. Albert product led the team scoring with the Calgary club for 11 seasons in a row, which is the longest streak in NHL history.

Among the all-time NHL leaders, Iginla ranks 13th in games played, 15th in goals (625) and 34th in points (1,300).

The motion to rename the arena passed first reading unanimously, with six councillors voting in favour and Coun. Wes Brodhead absent from the meeting.

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Jennifer Henderson

Jennifer Henderson joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2016. She writes about municipal, provincial and federal politics; court and crime; general news and features.