NHL News and Updates
Florida Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr is the Dick Clark of the NHL. He is the fountain of youth personified and is playing at a high level at age 44.
He recently passed Gordie Howe on the NHL’s all-time scoring list when he assisted on an Aleksander Borkov goal. It was Jagr’s 1,851st point of his career, passing Howe who had 1,850 during a storied career with the Detroit Red Wings. He only trails Wayne Gretzky (2,857) and Mark Messier (1,887) who he should pass easily barring injuries. “It’s more for you guys in the media,” Jagr said. “It’s behind me now. Let’s concentrate on wins.”
Jagr passed Bret Hull for third place earlier this season and leads the Panthers in scoring with 49 points. His 21 goals tie him for the team lead with Reilly Smith. The amazing thing is 12 of his teammates weren’t even born when Jagr made his rookie debut in 1990 with the Pittsburgh Penguins as the youngest player in the NHL.
Now Jagr likes to kick it old school. The points do not concern him as much as leading this team to the playoffs. The reeling Panthers have lost five of six games and are losing grip on an assured playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Jagr loves playoff runs more than making runs at records.
The old man might need to slow down for a bit. Jagr was diagnosed with a “lower body” injury in the first period of the Panthers 4-1 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. “I think it’s a groin or a hip,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said.
Gallant admires Jagr and said the recent attention has not been a distraction to the team.
“As a coaching staff, you know it’s going to happen,” he told the Ft. Lauderdale Sun Sentinel. “It doesn’t bother anybody, it doesn’t affect anybody. He’s a great player; he’s scoring points every night. I don’t think there was any distraction. It’s great to be there. You see him on the clock and passing Gordie Howe in points. That’s unbelievable.”
Jagr became the first Czechoslovakian player to be drafted as the Iron Curtain was falling. In Pittsburgh, he won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992 playing with Hall of Fame teammate Mario Lemieux, who fans nicknamed Mario Jr. earlier in his career.
Jagr later signed the largest NHL contract with the Washington Capitals which was valued at $77 million over seven years. His scoring fell off in Washington but he picked up the pace after being traded to the New York Rangers where he would eventually become captain.
Jagr isn’t the power speed demon that terrorized the NHL earlier in his career. Now he gets around the rink with smarts and savvy while schooling younger players. Now he is Captain Marvel because of his production at an advanced age of 44.
The NFL praised quarterback Peyton Manning for hanging in the league for so long. He retired earlier at age 39.
Jagr doesn’t like talking retirement, but said a few years ago he could play until age 50. He might be right.