If memory serves, it was my first conversation with Jarome Iginla.

In the days leading up to the 2000-01 NHL season — my first on the Calgary Flames beat — Iginla made a bold proclamation.

Despite scoring a grand total of 91 goals in his first four seasons and coming off a career-best 29-goal season in the previous campaign, Iginla — who was sporting a hairdo of small, tight braids with blond tips — said he was gunning to be a 40-goal sniper.

"I remember saying that," Iginla recalled. "People asked what you're shooting for, and I think I got to 30 before, I guess 29. It didn't really make sense to say 30, one goal more. People would say, 'You're not shooting very high, eh?'

"Some people thought it was foolish to say that."

Iginla didn't hit 40, settling on 31 that season, but you could see the budding star was on the verge of taking his game to the next level.

When Iginla finally reached and surpassed his lofty target with that league-leading 52-goal, 96-point season in 2001-02, many around the hockey world were caught off-guard.

But those who had watched him the couple of seasons prior could see something special was en route.

You saw flashes during his 16-game point streak late in the 1999-2000 season.

You saw more preludes in 2000-01, such as the infamous night he fought Brendan Shanahan, was left covered in blood but returned to action sporting more than a half-dozen stitches and a new jersey and promptly collected a goal and three assists in a 4-2 victory over the powerful Detroit Red Wings.

And then came the breakout season, which went beyond what anybody could have imagined.

Despite a torrid start — 13-2-4-2 — the Flames eventually fell down the standings, finishing out of the playoffs as expected.