Jaromir Jagr is a legend, and I will fight whoever disagrees with me.
Jagr has achieved this status simply by being himself for the past 30 years or so, and pretty much everyone agrees with this. Republicans and Democrats all love him. Beatles fans love him, as do Stones fans. Heck, even those who still believe the Earth is flat also believe that Jagr is one of the greatest people on God's green, flat Earth.
The Czech native is playing his 23rd season in the NHL, and has recently moved into 2nd place on the all-time points list, within 1,000 points of Wayne Gretzky. He’s played in over 1,700 games in his career and registered over 1,900 points. That’s a lot of hockey and a lot of years, and as such he’s written quite the story for himself.
I look forward to the autobiography that will be released in 15 years or so. Jagr has been through a lot in his pro career, which started as a 16-year-old in his hometown of Kladno with the Czech league. Some of the stories that have already surfaced are crazy as it is (some verifiable, some not so much).
Today we’re going to look back at Jagr’s storied career—which isn’t over, as the guy has said he plans to play until he’s 50—and remind you of 15 things you may have forgotten about this beautiful man. Perhaps you never even knew them. Either way, sit back and enjoy reading about this legend:
14 Has fought once in his career
Jaromir Jagr will be remembered for A LOT of things when it’s all said and done, but fighting is not one of them. However, he has been in one (sort of) fight in his NHL career, and that was back in 2000 as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Okay, I’ll be honest: it wasn’t much of a fight. In fact, neither player was even assessed a five minute fighting major on the play, so officially Jagr has never fought in the NHL.
Indeed that game against the Rangers on Oct. 27, 2000 was as close as he ever came though. He decided he’d had enough of defenseman/goon Rich Pilon’s antics, and he just started chucking windmills at Pilon. The gloves stayed on, so perhaps that’s why the play only saw roughing minors assessed. Whatever the case, here’s a link to the altercation so you can see for yourself.
13 He was drafted in 1990
A handful of journeyman NHLers retire every season, and these days it’s not uncommon to see a guy drafted in the latter part of the 1990s hanging up the skates. That’s why it’s sometimes a shock to recall that Jaromir Jagr was drafted way back in 1990, 5th overall, behind Owen Nolan, Petr Nedved, Keith Primeau, and Mike Ricci.
There are no players currently playing in the NHL who were drafted in 1991, 1992, 1993, or 1994. Every single player picked between 1990 and 1994 have retired, and only a select few remain from the 1995 draft. Super Mario Bros. 3 was released in North America the same year Jagr was drafted, and if you’re my age that really puts things into perspective and also makes you feel old.
12 Won Stanley Cups in first two seasons
Jaromir Jagr didn’t have to wait long to taste success at the NHL level, as he won the Stanley Cup in his first two years in the league. Blessed with the privilege of playing mostly on a line with generational-talent Mario Lemieux, they were a two-man wrecking crew throughout much of the ‘90s. Jagr probably thought winning in the NHL was easy, but that impression has since been erased.
Jagr has not won the Stanley Cup since, and has only had one other appearance in the Stanley Cup Final, in 2013 with the Boston Bruins. Jagr was a rental player that season, and he set an NHL record that year by joining the eventual Eastern Conference champs. It had been 21 years since his last Finals appearance, and that stands as the longest gap between appearances by any player in history.
11 Spent three seasons in the KHL
Jaromir Jagr recently passed Mark Messier for sole possession of second place in the all-time points list. What’s shocking is that Jagr would have certainly been the only other player other than Wayne Gretzky with over 2,000 points had he not spent those three seasons in the KHL with Omsk Avangard from 2008-2011.
Jagr made the move in 2008, joining the same club he signed with briefly during the 2004-05 NHL lockout. Tragedy struck in 2008 while Jagr was a member of Omsk, as 19-year-old prospect Alexei Cherapanov collapsed on the bench during a game and was eventually pronounced dead (the official cause of death listed as heart failure). Jagr was right next to Cherapanov during the incident, and had just taken the Russian prospect under his wing for the season.
10 Had his own brand of peanut butter in the ‘90s
This one had completely slipped my mind, but it’s true: Jagr had his own brand of peanut butter in the 1990s. Even after doing a good 5-10 minutes of internet research (I’m fresh out of ideas here, folks), I’m not exactly sure how or why this product came to be, but all I know is I wish I had a jar.
Here is a link to a write-up the NHL did in February about the peanut butter for a #TBT segment, and it comes complete with a three-minute commercial (video? Featurette? Infomercial? I don’t know) that raises as many questions as it answers. From what I can gather, a peanut butter entrepreneur tried to exploit Jagr to sell jars of peanut butter in Pittsburgh, and he also involved Jagr’s father to handle sales in the Czech Republic. Oh, and Jagr credits the peanut butter (ointment?) as the catalyst for healing his groin injury at the time (that last part stated facetiously, of course).
9 Was unsuccessfully blackmailed by 18-year-old Czech model
Okay, you probably have not forgotten this yet because it was fairly recent and is pretty much unforgettable, but it's still worth mentioning, just because of how Jagr handled it. It was only a few years ago that a picture surfaced of Jagr in bed with an 18-year-old Czech model identified simply as “Catherine from Moravia.” This young lady had snapped the photo shortly after the two had engaged in the sex, and reportedly threatened to release it if Jagr didn’t pay her 50,000 Czech crowns.
Jagr, who is single, did what pretty much any male would have done. He basically said “be my guest.” What’s even crazier about the whole situation is that Catherine was in a relationship with Dominik Rudl, a defenseman on the Czech junior team. Rudl couldn’t be reached for comment, but we can only assume that he was stoked to become Jagr’s polar bear brother.
8 Has scored most points after turning 40 (and other age-related records)
Jagr has been over 40 for a long time now, and he’s now the owner of pretty much every “after the age of 40” statistical category. Recently, he passed Gordie Howe as the player with the most points after turning 40 (269), which is quite impressive considering how Howe played until he was 52 (although some of that time was spent in the WHA).
There are oodles of other little age-related tidbits that I always find impressive about Jagr. He became the oldest player to score a hat trick in the NHL when he accomplished the feat in 2013 as a member of the New Jersey Devils. He was 42, almost 43 at the time, and that’s a record that was previously held by Howe and unlikely to be broken—ever.
7 Member of the Triple-Gold club
There are 27 members of the “Triple-Gold” club, but only two Czech Republic natives (the rest are Canadians, Russians, and Swedes). Jaromir Jagr is of course one of them, as he completed the feat in 2005 by taking Gold in the World Championships held in Vienna. To join the triple-gold club, a player must win the Stanley Cup, an Olympic Gold Medal, and a World Championship Gold Medal.
He was a member of the Czech national team when they won Olympic Gold in 1998, the first year NHL players were permitted to participate, and of course we’ve already covered his two Stanley Cup championships in 1991 and 1992. Don’t expect Jagr to play any more international hockey though; he sat out of the World Cup before the season started, as the 82-game grind of an NHL season is almost too much for the 45-year-old as it is.
7. Troubles with the IRS (and a potential gambling problem)
While Jagr’s career has seen him make more than enough money, he’s had his financial run-ins in the past. The IRS actually had to file a $3.27 million lien against Jagr back in 2003 for unpaid taxes from the 1999 tax year. This came just a few years after Jagr had settled a $350,000 claim in an unrelated tax snafu. The talented winger later would sue his former accountant, claiming that a form that was supposed to be filed wasn’t, costing him millions.
There have been rumors of other money issues as well. Jagr vehemently denies that he has a gambling problem, but he did indeed settle debts totaling nearly $1 million in 2003 with two different gambling sites. I suppose $1 million might just be a drop in the bucket for Jagr though, so perhaps he has everything under control. At least I like to think he does.
6 He got 11 points in one game in 1994/95
I admit this is misleading, as his 11 points game came in a game during the 1994-95 NHL lockout while he was playing in Europe. Jagr decided to try his trade out in a few different situations, and that included two one-game stints for two different teams: Bolzano HC of Italy’s best hockey league (Jagr finished the game pointless), and the Schalker Sharks of a German pro league (non-elite).
It was during his game with the Sharks that Jagr registered his 11 points (one goal, 10 assists). He finished the season ahead of six players who played full seasons with the club, and there’s even a trading card out there somewhere with Jagr wearing the Schalker Sharks silks. In the NHL, for the record, Jagr’s most points in one game is seven (accomplished twice).
5 Jagr had 525 points when Aaron Ekblad was born
It’s crazy to think how much older Jagr is than pretty much everybody else in the league, and one of the more fun ways to put that into perspective is to tally up how many NHL points Jagr had when some of his teammates were born. Let’s use Aaron Ekblad as an example, as he is one of the younger stars in Florida.
Ekblad, who is already in his third NHL season, was born Feb. 7, 1996. Jagr had of course already begun terrorizing the league alongside Mario Lemieux by this time, and he was in the middle of his most productive season, finishing with 149 points. Amazingly, Jagr had already registered 525 points by the time of Ekblad’s birth, and he had an Art Ross Trophy on his mantle from the previous season.
4 Lost the 2000 Hart Trophy to Pronger by one vote
There’s no question that Jagr has quite an impressive collection of hardware he’s gathered over the years. Most notably he’s won five Art Ross Trophies (as the league’s leading scorer—coming two points shy of the honor for a sixth time in 2005-06), but just the one Hart Trophy (as league MVP), captured in 1999.
Since Dominik Hasek was just killing it in Buffalo during much of Jagr’s prime, Jagr didn’t win as many as he probably would have in other eras. Jagr actually holds the record for “closest runner-up” in the Hart Trophy vote, and that was back in 2000. St. Louis defenseman Chris Pronger won it with 396 voting points; Jagr, who took home the Art Ross and Lester Pearson Trophies that season, finished with 395 voting points. Ouch.
3 Has never been married
This is actually one of the reasons I respect Jagr so much. It’s not that I would disrespect the marriage part of the equation; far from it. It’s more to the fact that I’ve seen and heard of way too many NHL players over the years exhibiting greasy behavior in public while on the road and their wives/families are sitting at home.
Jagr has never been married before, and even though he’s been linked to many attractive women in the past, he’s never gotten too serious. As a result, he’s been able to bed beautiful women throughout his entire career without being referred to as a cheating douchebag. If you’re going to get married, be nice to your wife and don’t cheat on her. If you’re not going to get married? SMRT.
2 Has his own set of devoted traveling fans
Jagr’s mullet has become a pretty major part of his look, even if it no longer has the spring it had back in the ‘90s. It was this mullet that can be credited with the inception of the “Traveling Jagrs,” a group of 18 fans from Calgary who wear mullet wigs, drape themselves in a Jagr jersey from one of his various NHL teams from the past, and attend Jagr games in rinks across the league every season.
The Traveling Jagrs have developed somewhat of a cult following, and these days it’s tough for them to go to the washroom between periods on account of having picture requests from other fans. The crew of misfits finally got the privilege of meeting Jagr last season during a visit to Sunrise. Jagr, of course, takes the homage in good humor and actually had sent his girlfriend to collect the guys for the meet and greet.
1 Wears 68 because of Prague Spring
One of the most common things for young stars to do these days is to match their jersey number to their birth year. Jagr was born in 1972, so that’s obviously not why he chose to wear 68. He went with 68 because 1968 was the year of Prague Spring, a period of liberalization in then-Czechoslovakia. It was the reformists' attempt at granting more freedoms for the people of Czechoslovakia.
Jagr has many personal connections to that eight-month period before his birth. His grandfather actually died while in prison during Prague Spring. Jagr’s grandfather was jailed for opposing the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia and not standing down from his farm. Jagr is always quick to point out that he doesn’t have a general disdain for Russians because of this though, but rather their communist policies that worked so hard to oppress his people.