Iginla is ready for any new role with Penguins

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As the shock of the Penguins' latest trade was beginning to ease, the biggest question Wednesday became: Where will newly acquired future Hall of Fame winger Jarome Iginla play?

With Sidney Crosby, the Team Canada linemate he set up for the overtime goal in the gold-medal game at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics? But Crosby also is the center on what coach Dan Bylsma called "one of the best lines in hockey right now."

With Evgeni Malkin, the defending NHL scoring champion and MVP who Thursday night returned from injury to play against the Winnipeg Jets at Consol Energy Center?

With first-year Penguins center Brandon Sutter, which would put Iginla on the third line?

Iginla, acquired in the wee hours Thursday from the Calgary Flames in return for two college prospects and the Penguins' 2013 first-round draft pick, wasn't able to get to Pittsburgh and play against the Jets. Immigration details in moving from Canada might hold him up for a couple of more days or so.

Bylsma kind of backed into part of an answer of where Iginla will fit in. It won't be on the top line with Crosby, at least not regularly.

"I think we're going to continue to see those three guys play together," Bylsma said.

Bylsma allowed that there could be situations in games where Crosby and Iginla are on the ice together, and it remains to be seen how Iginla might be used on the power play.

Iginla, 35, with 525 goals, 1,095 points in 1,219 NHL games, had to OK the deal because of a no-movement clause in his contract. He will take no offense no matter where he is asked to play.

"I'm not sure what my role will be, and I'm fine with whatever that is," Iginla said at a departing news conference in Calgary. "The way I'm trying to view it is like when you go to a Team Canada thing or an Olympics thing where you go and the coach tells you [where to play] and you're ready for any new role. That's where I'm at."

Crosby developed good chemistry with Iginla in the 2010 Olympics and has good memories and a good scouting report on his newest teammate.

"We both like to work down low," Crosby said. "He's not afraid to go to the tough areas, in front of the net and things like that. He's a pretty easy guy to play with.

"He made a great pass on that goal. That's something I'll always remember."

Iginla is the third player acquired by general manager Ray Shero this week. The other two, winger Brenden Morrow and defenseman Douglas Murray, also came from the Western Conference, and Morrow played with Iginla at the Olympics, too, so they are familiar with the former Flames captain.

"I think fans see the stats, the goals and the assists, but what I know of Jarome from the Olympics and from competing against him is he's a quality person," said Morrow, who was Dallas' captain. "His character is second to none. Once that puck drops, you're not going to find anyone that works harder."

Murray, told of Crosby's comment about Iginla being good down low, smiled.

"You'd better pay attention wherever you are on the ice," he said. "He can beat you with speed. He can beat you with strength. He can beat you with a quick release."

The addition of Murray, Morrow and, in particular, Iginla -- all in exchange for prospects and draft picks but no members of the NHL roster ---- would seem to make the Penguins the best team, at least on paper, and enhance the Stanley Cup chances of a team that already is in first place in the Eastern Conference and raised its winning streak to 14 games with a 4-0 victory Thursday night against Winnipeg.

That's likely the view around the hockey world, but it doesn't put the squeeze on the team, said Crosby, the team captain.

"I think before this trade we would have been in the conversation," Crosby said. "Opinions and what people think of the outlook of our team -- we're always in the conversation as far as favorites. We're OK with that, but I think we have to realize that there's a lot of work left."

The regular season ends in just more than four weeks.

"We do have a month to come together as a team, on and off the ice, to have guys with different roles find their identities and get ready for the playoffs," Shero said.

"Yeah, the pressure is on, but that's the way it goes."

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For more on the Penguins, read the Pens Plus blog with Dave Molinari and Shelly Anderson at www.post-gazette.com/plus. Shelly Anderson: shanderson@post-gazette.com and Twitter: @pgshelly. First Published March 29, 2013 4:00 AM


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