After the roller-coaster ride of the past NHL season concluded, the 41-year old Czech Jaromir Jagr confirmed he would like to return for another season in the NHL. However, he understands that his most recent playoff performance could result in the Bruins losing interest in the legend, especially after tallying only a satisfactory 10 assists in 22 playoff games. Where he ends up next is unpredictable after last seasons events, but it can be said with confidence that Jagr still has much to offer to any team.
Upon signing a 1-year $4.5 million deal with the Stars during the last off-season, the expectations for Jagr’s production were set quite high. It was predicted he would bring a leadership boost to a young Stars club, act as an example to rising Stars like Jamie Benn, and put up some decent numbers.
Jagr scored a team-leading 24 points in 36 games played for the Stars, before being traded last-minute to Boston after the Bruins lost their bid for Jarome Iginla. In Dallas, he was an immediate fan favourite, which helped quite a bit with Dallas’ attendance numbers. In fact, the Dallas Stars had the largest attendance increase in the league this past season. Aside from attendance help, his work ethic undoubtedly lead to a more disciplined Stars club.
There was no goofing around on Jagr’s watch.
Take a look at this quote from Jagr’s former teammate Scott Hartnell, whose point production was quite impressive, scoring 37 goals and 67 points during his season playing with Jagr - “I did kind of screw around in practice, I like to have fun,” he said. “Jagr didn’t like that. He would say, ‘It’s time to work.’ He believes that how you practice is how you play. He expected me to be dialed in…That was such a great season for me, and last year was such a disappointment” (CBC Sports). This is the kind of dedication you get from a guy like Jagr, and I would bet that he brought that same attitude to Dallas. He’s a great example to players on and off the ice. In the picture above, you can see Jagr wearing a weighted vest post ice-time. He is an excellent example of how hard work can pay off, but he also illustrates the fact that the effort must be a constant bid for improvement.
After being traded to Boston, his point production slowed down, most likely due to his placement on the third-line, which is understandable after looking at the star power of a powerful Bruins club. However, he later joined the second line alongside the talented Tyler Seguin and pesky Brad Marchand. Bruins coach Claude Julien saw that this guy could adapt and perform quite sufficiently. 10 assists in 22 games is not by any standard poor, but for Jagr, it might be. Regardless, there are ways to contribute other then on the score sheet. I think at this moment his point production is a bit more then half of what Jagr brings to the table; the other half being experience and discipline.
While his point production may have slowed down, his influence did not. Though he did not score a single goal in these past playoffs, he had some pretty clutch assists, especially this absolutely perfect pass to Patrice Bergeron who banked it home to put the Bruins up 2-0 in Game 3. Seriously, look at that pass.
It is near impossible to measure the significance of the influence that Jagr has to offer at his current age. He has been at the top of the league so many times, he’s played with the best, and yet, he still manages to control the puck along the boards like he is 25-years-old. If you did not know Jagr’s age or who he was, you would probably guess he was a lot younger; especially judging by the way he controls the puck and creates opportunities. I really cannot imagine why a team would not want him, other then cap reasons. He’s playful with the media, a class act on the ice, has priceless experience, and still reads the ice like no one else can. Remember that terrific end-to-end rush from Jagr which ended in an amazing pass to Claude Giroux during a game against the New Jersey Devils? You don’t see those kinds of plays being created very often, let alone from a guy that age.
Of course, Jagr is different, after all. He’s legendary.
He has been the captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Washington Capitals, he’s won the Art Ross 5 times, the Hart Memorial once, and he’s won the cup twice. If that doesn’t spell out legendary in giant bold letters, I’m not sure what will. Moving away from a summarization of his accomplishments, let’s look at what he can offer now.
Sure, he’s a year older. Yeah, his point production has slowed down. Okay, he’s losing his speed.
Then again, the leadership he exhibits is unmatchable, he has brilliant determination, he can lead by example to any NHLer, young or old, and the man still puts up respectable numbers. He’s now a free agent, and you can bet your bottom dollar that he will be sought after, and he will make big money.