For years we heard the saying “Friend of Mario” (FOM), referring to the players who chose to come to Pittsburgh to play with legendary center Mario Lemieux. But this morning, “Friend of Crosby” (FOC), seems most appropriate.

As in, “what the FOC?!”

In the wee hours of the morning, as I sat on the couch with a cranky toddler, I watched in disappointment as the Boston Bruins appeared to nab the most prized player leading to next week’s trade deadline.

Bob McKenzie of TSN went so far as to report the trade, though calling it “unofficial” at the time.

McKenzie doesn’t get it wrong often, but his information on Jarome Iginla was incomplete, though not entirely incorrect.

You see, Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster had three deals on the table, with the third team reportedly being the Chicago Blackhawks. Of the known packages offered, Boston’s clearly outdid that offered by Penguins general manager Ray Shero.

So how, then, did Iginla end up in Pittsburgh?

By having a no-trade clause, he was able to dictate his destination, even if it meant preventing the Flames from getting the best return.

There are three elements that likely came into play in Iginla deciding that Pittsburgh was his best option.

1. The Penguins already have made two high-profile trades to bring in playoff-style veterans hungry for a Stanley Cup — while not parting with any roster players, meaning their streaking team got stronger in some areas without getting weaker in others.

2. Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs was a driving force in prolonging the lockout a few months back, serving as a hardliner unwilling to give in to player demands. His stance was discussed a possible deal-breaker for future player signings, and no doubt it played a factor in Iginla’s decision.

3. Iginla spent Canada’s 2010 gold medal Olympic run as Crosby’s right wing and saw firsthand the passion, determination, and fire the young center possess. Not only did the team win the gold, but Crosby and Iginla formed a strong chemistry that Iginla surely hopes will be rekindled in a run for the first Stanley Cup of his career.

I’m not so niave as to believe that Iginla chose Pittsburgh solely as a result of Crosby’s stature. No player makes any decision based on one specific aspect.

If Crosby was such a drawing force, his close friend Zach Parise would be wearing the Black and Gold and Iginla wouldn’t have been given an opportunity to become a Penguin.

But Crosby has demonstrated throughout his career that he is, by far, the best player since the days of Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky, which makes Pittsburgh an attractive destination for any player hoping to drink from the Cup.

With the additions of Brendan Morrow — who also chose to waive his no-trade clause for a move to Pittsburgh — one has to believe the odds are heavily in favor of the Penguins winning it all.

And that is the Sidney Crosby factor.