The legend lives on as Jagr signs for the Flames
When Jaromir Jagr began playing in the NHL in 1990, George Bush Sr was US president and Jagr’s native Czech Republic was still part of Czechoslovakia.
However, the veteran winger is not ready to hang his skates up just yet, and has agreed a one-year deal with the Calgary Flames at the age of 45.
It remains to be seen whether one of the sport’s true legends can help a young Flames team to reach the NHL play-offs.
But we should celebrate the longevity of a player who has won two Stanley Cups, two World Championships and Olympic gold, having plied his trade for no less than nine NHL outfits.
It was a nerve-racking summer for Jagr, whose previous team the Florida Panthers opted not to offer him a new contract, while others respectfully declined his services.
At one point, some reports even suggested that all 31 teams had officially said ‘no’ to the Czech, who looked to be heading back to Europe if he was to extend his long and illustrious career.
A Czech worth one million
But come on now, did you actually think that a career of nearly three decades was going to fizzle out like that? Not a chance. Jagr is known for many things, but the biggest of them all is perseverance.
‘Jagr will be efficient in controlling the puck, spreading it around, and creating space for other players to get into position’
There’s a reason why he is second in the all-time scoring list in the history of the NHL and there’s a reason why he will still keep going next season.
Calgary announced Jag’s signing last week and are reportedly paying him a million dollars. It’s a cheap deal with a low risk, to say the least.
So, what are the Flames getting from the 2017-18 version of Jaromir Jagr – the greatest European to ever play the game?
For one, he will be the mentor in the locker room for those younger players, especially the ones from Europe who might have some issues finding their feet within the North American system.
The players will obviously listen to every word captain Mark Giordano has to say, but alongside him will be Jagr, a respected figure across the league.
Jagr will be efficient in controlling the puck, spreading it around, and creating space for other players to get into position.
Let’s not kid ourselves, his speed and agility are nowhere near what they used to be, so coach Glen Gulutzan has to play to the 45-year old’s remaining strengths.
Quick line rushes and counter attacks? Don’t count on it. Jagr will do the passing and setting up shop near the goal or in the corners which are his bread and butter at this stage of his career.
However, the one area where he will be as lethal as ever is the power play.
When given time and space combined with a two-minute man advantage, Jagr can still do wonders with the puck.
He still reads the game very well and possesses a good enough shot to score goals – but keep an eye on his power play passing and creating chances for team-mates.
Plus, he’ll definitely sell a jersey or two on the side.
With past clubs including Pittsburgh, Dallas, Boston, Philadelphia and New Jersey, will Calgary be his last? I wouldn’t bet on it…
Photo via Flickr Creative Commons courtesy of s.yume. Jaromir Jagr is on Twitter @68Jagr.