The writing has been on the wall quite a while for Jaromir Jagr's resurrected NHL career. Yesterday officially marked the end of Jagr's time with his latest team, the Calgary Flames, as they moved him to the waiver wire. He cleared waivers today and the hardest working hockey player is now heading back to the KHL. He plans to play for the team that he has been owner of since 2011 (ala Mario Lemieux, maybe?), HC Kladno. It just so happens that Kladno is also his hometown.
Many people know that Jagr is one of my player's that I collect and have since I was a kid. Back when Jagr was drafted by the Penguins in the first round of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, there were high hopes for him as a prospect in the Pittsburgh system. Everyone knew he was good but I'm not sure that everybody expected his initial 57 points in 80 games. He never looked back.
Now, 24 seasons and nine teams later, he is heading back to the KHL for the second time. He spent three seasons back there in the later stages of Phase 1 of his career, joining the Avangard Omsk team in Russia when the NHL was locked out in 2004. Returning in 2011 to play for the Flyers, he made his "farewell tour" around the NHL almost an annual thing, playing for six teams in eight seasons.
But the player that endeared me was the 11-season Jaromir Jagr of the Pittsburgh Penguins. As a fully aware and engaged hockey fan, I grew up with Jagr. His posters graced the walls of my room (I can remember at least two different Starline ones). The first Pens jersey that I had, that was actually not a hand-me-down, was his. I had numerous magazines that he was featured on. My favorite t-shirt I owned had a caricature of him with his long flowing locks. He was the epitome of cool, nightly displaying his talent and skill all while sporting the sweetest hair. I even tried to grow my hair out just like his...it was close (at least in my mind).
A first ballot HOFer for sure, his career stats speak for themselves. I'll leave you all with some info to marvel over.
- Games played - - 1,733 3rd All Time
- Goals - - 766 3rd All Time (behind Howe and Gretzky)
- Assists - - 1,155 5th All Time
- Total Points - - 1,921 2nd All Time (only Gretzky is ahead)
- Game Winning Goals - - 135 1st All Time
- 10 Time All Star
- 5 Time Art Ross Trophy Winner
- Hart Trophy Winner
- Masterton Trophy Winner
- 3 Time Ted Lindsay Award Winner
- 2 Time Stanley Cup Champion
- Voted one of the NHL's 100 Greatest Players of All Time.