This year marks the National Hockey League's 100th anniversary, and over the course of that century, the league has provided audiences with the best hockey players that the world has to offer. As of right now, the NHL is home to approximately 620 active players, all of whom have worked incredibly hard to make it into the best and most competitive hockey league in the world, but even amongst all those players, there is still a very clear and established pecking order, as there are only a handful of individuals who can truly be considered great. The league is currently dominated by the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, and Connor McDavid, and all of them have one thing in common: they all played against Jaromir Jagr last season.
Jagr came into the NHL in 1990, after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins earlier that same year, and to many people's surprise, he is still playing professional hockey at the age of 45. In a career that has spanned 26 years, including 23 NHL seasons, Jagr has become known as The Ageless Wonder, because he continues to play the game at a high enough level that he is not a detriment to his team. When he was younger though, Jagr was a superstar, one who could score and put up points at a rate that is almost unheard of in today's NHL. Jagr will go down as one of the greatest offensive players in history, which is why he is guaranteed a spot in the Hall of Fame when he calls it a career, so to honor him before what might be his 24th NHL season, here is a list of 15 things you might not have known about Jaromir Jagr.
15 He Got A Lot Of Tickets In His Early Years
When you look at Jaromir Jagr today, he is a fairly relaxed and calm-looking individual, but he was not always that way, because like most of us, he was much more of a troublemaker when he was younger. Jagr started his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins when he was just 19 years old, and during his first few seasons, he crossed paths with local police multiple times, with virtually every incident resulting in him receiving a speeding ticket. At this point in time, Jagr was still very young and new to the United States, and making millions of dollars, so it is not all that surprising that he went a bit overboard in the speed department, like most of us likely would if we were him, but he ended up accumulating so many speeding tickets, that his glove box was literally jammed with them.
14 He Spent Some Time Away From The NHL
As far as scorers go, Jaromir Jagr is one of the best that has ever lived, and his numbers more than represent that. In fact, he was such a prolific scorer that he is near the top of every single NHL offensive category. In 2008 though, Jagr decided to leave the NHL to go and play in Europe's Kontinental Hockey League, and he stayed there for three seasons before finally returning to the NHL with Philadelphia in 2011. While in the KHL, Jagr managed to put up a total of 82 goals and 184 points in 187 games, which is quite impressive considering he was in his late 30s at the time. Before leaving the NHL, Jagr was still capable of putting up well over 50 points, which is why many analysts and insiders question just how many points he would have now if he had never left for those three seasons.
13 He Has An Incredible Work Ethic
In order to become a professional athlete, a person needs to be able to train at an extremely high level, and at some point, the strain that that training puts on the body becomes too much, which is part of the reason why athletes decide to retire. At this stage of his life, Jagr is by no means a spring chicken, but he is still capable of playing a full NHL season, which at his age, can only really be done thanks to an incredible work ethic and training regimen. When it comes to working out, Jagr is a beast, because at the age of 45, he continues to skate virtually every night, even after playing a game, and while on the ice, he wears a 44-pound weight vest, along with 4-pound weights around his ankles. He also practices his stick handling skills by handling 10-pound metal discs instead of pucks, and every day he shoots an 8-pound medicine ball against a wall a few hundred times.
12 He Almost Has As Many Playoff Goals As The Entire Panthers' Franchise
As of right now, Jaromir Jagr is still a free agent looking to sign with a new team, and surprisingly, despite still being able to play rather well, there are very few teams interested in his services. For parts of the last three seasons, Jagr has played for the Florida Panthers, where he served more of a mentor role to the team's very young offensive core, and in that time, he managed to help the team make the playoffs in the 2015-16 season. Jagr is no stranger to playoff hockey, with all of his appearances resulting in two Stanley Cup wins, and during his prime, he was able to score in the playoffs just as much as he did during the regular season. As of now, Jagr has 78 career playoff goals, which is a lot, and very close to the total amount of playoff goals scored by the entire Panthers franchise, which has only managed to score 108 goals over a 24-year history.
11 His Two Most Renowned On-Ice Attributes
In the game of hockey, it is actually quite difficult to score a goal, which is why everyone celebrates whenever they get the puck in the back of the net, and over the decades, there have been some very memorable goal scoring celebrations. Everyone has seen the iconic celebrations of Teemu Selanne, Theoren Fleury, and Steve Yzerman, but in those cases, the celebrations were all one-offs. When it comes to Jagr, he is known for celebrating the same way after each and every goal. Whenever he scores, Jagr always takes his glove off to salute the crowd, and this move is one of his renowned on-ice attributes, with the other being the magnificent mullet he had earlier in his career, which would flow gloriously as he skated through the opposition.
10 He Was A Character In A Musical
When it comes to his performance in the NHL, Jaromir Jagr is a bona fide Hall of Famer, but he also needs to be acknowledged for his amazing International career, because he has achieved great things while playing for the Czech Republic. As a member of his country's national team, Jagr has helped lead the Czech Republic to a Bronze medal in the 2004 World Cup, a Bronze and two Golds at the World Championships, and a Bronze at the 2006 Winter Olympics, with a Gold Medal performance at the 1998 Games. The 1998 medal was incredibly important to the country, especially since no one believed that the Czech team had a shot at winning anything, which made the players on the team national heroes. To pay tribute to the medal-winning team, a musical called "Nagano" was created, with every character named after one of the players, including Jagr, who had captained the team.
9 He Believes He Can Still Play For Several More Years
Time is the enemy of all living things, because eventually, people get too old to do certain things, and in professional sports, most athletes are considered to be old and have to retire by the time they are in their mid 30s. As of right now, Jagr is 45 years old, and if he plays in the NHL next season, he will be the only 46-year old in the league, and believe it or not, he still legitimately believes that he has plenty left in the tank. During the 2015-16 season, he was asked by a reporter what his plans were for the future, to which he responded by saying that he plans on playing until the age of 50, which the reporters present thought was a joke, but he was indeed serious. Jagr has even said that he will continue to play for any team that will give him enough ice time to help the team.
8 He Is One of Only 3 Players To Score A Goal After The Age Of 45
As of last season, Jaromir Jagr has played in 23 NHL seasons, which is simply astonishing considering how short most NHL careers are, and over the course of his career, he has managed to achieve several team and league records. Last season, Jagr managed to put his name into the record books again, when he passed Mark Messier for the second most points scored in league history, and for scoring a goal at the age of 45, something that has only been done by two other players. When Jagr scored that goal, he joined the company of Chris Chelios and the late Gordie Howe, both of whom were incredible players who have since been enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Seeing as Jagr wants to continue playing, there is a good chance he could become the oldest player ever to score an NHL goal.
7 He Had His Own Peanut Butter
In today's world, professional athletes are all making huge sums of money, with the best of best now generally making well over $10 million a year, but in most cases, the best athletes tend to make A LOT more money thanks to endorsements. We all know that companies like Nike and Under Armor pay certain athletes millions to represent their products, but over two decades ago, athletes were not making as much money as they are today, which is why they would endorse many things. Jagr was indeed a superstar in the '90s, which means that he got several endorsement deals, with the best one, from a comedic standpoint, being for peanut butter. Having your name and picture on a jar of peanut butter might be embarrassing to some, but Jagr was actually thrilled when a reporter showed him an old jar in 2011.
6 His Name Can Be Rearranged Into Something Interesting
The current Pittsburgh Penguins are incredibly lucky that they were able to draft both Crosby and Malkin, because the pair have now led the team to three championships, but this is actually the second time that the franchise has been so lucky. When Jagr was drafted by Pittsburgh, the Penguins already had Mario Lemieux, a Hall of Famer who is considered by many to be amongst the two best players in NHL history, and while together, both players helped to lead the team to back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. Both players were offensive powerhouses, and managed to put up incredible numbers, to the point that in the 1995 season alone, they combined for a whopping 131 goals and 310 points. Jagr was so talented in fact, that some even suggested he was the second coming of Mario, which is somewhat of an eerie statement, seeing as Jaromir spells out "Mario Jr" if you rearrange the letters.
5 The Story Behind His Jersey Number
In every professional team sport, the athletes all have to wear their team's jersey, but they always get to choose what number they want printed on it, and in most cases, that number has some kind of special significance to the player. Jagr is no different in that regard, as he has worn the number 68 throughout his career, and he wears that number in order to honor both his grandfather and his country. Jagr was born in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Raepublic) in 1972, and in 1968, there was a rebellion known as the Prague Spring, which signified the beginning of the country's separation from the Soviet Union, and Jagr's grandfather participated in that rebellion, where he lost his life. Jagr has consistently shown great pride in his heritage, and based on the career he has had, both his grandfather and country will forever be proud.
4 He Was Once Blackmailed
At some point, everyone becomes sexually active, it is just how nature works, and there is no reason to feel ashamed about it, in fact sexuality has been a big part of society for years now, to the extent that we now follow the intimate lives of celebrities and professional athletes. Jagr is a former superstar, and is more or less considered to be royalty in the Czech Republic, so it should come as no surprise that he has met quite a few women over the years, and in 2015, he proved that age was not an issue when he spent the night with an 18-year old Czech model. After the hook up, the woman took a selfie of the two in bed together while Jagr was asleep, and after she posted it online, someone threatened to sell the picture to an American publication unless Jagr paid them $2,000. Jagr, however, did not pay a single penny, which makes a lot of sense, because why would he be embarrassed about having a one-night stand with a model?
3 He Had Gambling Issues
Professional athletes may be incredible physical specimens who genuinely live lavish lifestyles thanks to all of the money they make, but when you put all of that stuff aside, they are all ordinary people just like the rest of us. Since they are just like everyone else, it stands to reason that some athletes sometimes go down a dark path, one which eventually causes them a good deal of trouble, and gambling is one of those dark paths. Now Jagr has never actually admitted this, but there is evidence that he did have a bit of a gambling problem well over a decade ago. In 2003, he paid off a $950,000 debt that he had accumulated between 1998 and 2002, and when the final payment was made, William Cesar, who owned a sports gambling website, made it clear that the payments were being made to his site.
2 Nearly 40% Of Current NHLers Were Born After He Made His Debut
Jaromir Jagr has been playing professional hockey for nearly three decades now, and when you play a game for as long as he has, then there is a high probability that he is hearing quite a few old man jokes. While playing with Florida, Jagr's age became very noticeable from an actual age perspective, because he played with 10 players who were not even alive when he played his first NHL game. In fact, the youngest member of the roster was Aaron Ekblad, who was born six years after Jagr made his debut. Not only did Jagr have teammates that were not even alive 26 years ago, but he has also been playing against a lot of young players, in fact the NHL is skewing so young, that 38% of the league's current players were not even born when Jagr came into the league.
1 He Was Not A 1st-Overall Pick
With two Stanley Cups, one Hart Trophy, five Art Ross Trophies, 765 goals, and 1,914 points, there is no doubt whatsoever that Jagr will be a first ballot Hall of Famer when he becomes eligible for induction, but what many people do not know, or have forgotten, is that he was not a 1st-overall pick. In 1990, the Quebec Nordiques drafted first, and used their pick to take Owen Nolan, a winger who went on to have a pretty good and long career, but nothing compared to Jagr's, as Pittsburgh was able to draft him 5th overall. You read that right, one of the best scorers in NHL history was essentially stolen by the Penguins, and what makes that draft even funnier, is the fact that Jagr was not even rated as one of the draft's top 10 skaters.