Colorado Avalanche forward Jarome Iginla, who is no doubt a first-ballot Hall of Famer, is expected to play his 1,500th career NHL game on Saturday against the Montreal Canadiens at Bell Centre. If he does, he will become the 16th player to reach that milestone. The 39-year-old is in his 20th season and is 16th on the all-time goal-scoring list, with 614. He is 35th on the all-time points list, with 1,279. If he plays all of the Avalanche's remaining 57 games, his total of 1,556 would put him 12th on the all-time list.
Iginla will become a free agent after this season. He has never won a Stanley Cup and many would agree he deserves to have his name etched on the famous trophy. The Avalanche have a chance to earn a postseason berth if they can get on a roll. If not, Iginla is a candidate to be traded to a contender before the trade deadline for a chance to finally win.
He recently sat down with ESPN.com to discuss his milestones, career, future and the state of the game.
ESPN.com: Jarome, what it's like to play 1,500 games in the NHL?
Jarome Iginla: It's one of those things you don't really think about along the way, but as it approaches and I get there, or get really close, it definitely makes me appreciate how fortunate I've been to play this long and play that amount of games. When you start, you don't think about it like that, you're just playing. It's one also that I'm very thankful for because a lot of it is staying healthy. A lot of that is out of our control and I've been very fortunate, very lucky.
ESPN.com: Since you were traded by the Calgary Flames in 2013, your career has changed dramatically. How would you describe what you've been through?
Iginla: Yeah, it's changed. It's funny because when I was in Calgary, I think I played 16 seasons, and it was great. It was amazing. A lot of fun years and different things happened, and a lot of great players I got to play with and got to know and I really enjoyed it. I didn't expect -- at the time, if you asked me after 10 years, I would've said I'm probably staying. I also realize things change quickly and I've enjoyed it. I've gotten to experience a lot of different things, my family and I, different cities and I wouldn't change it. It's been great. It's been a big adventure. It's gone fast. It's been real enjoyable.
ESPN.com: You're an unrestricted free agent after this season. How much longer do you want to play?
Iginla: Yeah, I don't know. I don't know. I honestly don't know. I know this is my last year of my contract, I've got three kids and they enjoy it, though. It's probably more of my wife wouldn't mind a little bit more help around the house, but the kids enjoy watching it and all that, so there are a lot of things to consider. It's still fun and it's great winning. It's still fun winning and competing. It's truly a decision I'll make at the end of the year and see how it goes. I'm just trying to enjoy it right now.
ESPN.com: Is part of the "things to consider" the fact that you haven't won a Stanley Cup and still want to accomplish that?
Iginla: Yeah, it is part of it because every year you play, you have a chance to win. I'd obviously still like to win and compete for it and stuff, so that is part of it, yeah, there's no question. But in saying that, I mean, at a certain point I've been very fortunate and got to play a long time. I've had a ton of fun. Played with great players, played in great situations and I've been fortunate to score goals and things like that, so there are lots of things I'm thankful for. In a perfect world, yeah, I'd love to win in one of my last years, or my last year, but we'll see.
ESPN.com: Many consider this the golden age of youth in the league. What do you think of the state of the game and what advice would you give these young stars?
Iginla: Oh, I don't know. But, yeah, it's definitely been impressive, the young talent in the league. Sometimes there's talk about, "Oh, it's going to switch and it's all going to be young," but I don't think that'll be the case. A lot of those young guys will be around when they're old, too. It's impressive how talented they are and it's great for the fans. Advice-wise? Enjoy it, because it goes fast. It's the same things guys told me when I was younger. It's hard to believe but it's a ton of fun and that's why I guess it does go so fast.
ESPN.com: Who's the best player in the league right now?
Iginla: [Connor] McDavid has been very impressive, and playing against him you see what he can do and how he can control a game, but it's hard to go against Sid [Crosby]. I think coming off a Stanley Cup, what he did at the World Cup, what he's doing already at the start of the season since he's been back [from a concussion], so I would still, personally right now, go with Sid. Ask me in another couple of years, maybe it changes, but right now I'd probably say Sid.