Joe Colborne was no different than any self-respecting, red-blooded Calgary kid back in the day. He had the merchandise.

“The sweater?” blurts the homegrown centreman, taken slightly aback that you even had to ask. “Oh yeah. Of course I had one. A No. 12. With the nameplate? What do you think? With everything.

“Can’t remember when I got it exactly. Christmas? Birthday? I don’t know.

“I got it just . . . just . . . well, just because. Because he was my favourite player. Because he was EVERYONE’s favourite player.

“It seemed every person in town had one of those sweaters. You’d see so many 12s walking around on game days you couldn’t keep count. Now it could be a Monahan or a Baertschi or a Giordano. Back then you knew what you’d see when you got to the rink — an awful lot of 12s.”

Apt to be a few floating around the Scotiabank Saddledome on Tuesday night, too, leftover remnants from what is now officially a bygone era, as Jarome Iginla marks his competitive return to this town.

When the 16-year Calgary Flame walked into the building off the Boston Bruins’ bus and out of the blowing snow early afternoon Monday, it was as if the Biebs had dropped into a girls-only junior high. Met by a crush of back-pedalling media, snapping off photos and footage.

An amused Brad Marchand, surveying the hordes impatiently awaiting Iginla’s nine-minute media availability in the visiting dressing room, spoke for everyone:

“He’s loved here. He’s a legend.”

And doesn’t a local like Joe Colborne know it.

“It’s not every day,” he says, “that you get to play against someone who’s been a role model of yours for a long time. It’s going to be a special night for him, a special night for all the fans here, I’m sure.”