Jaromir Jagr has taken the hockey world by storm all over again. In a throwback to the 90s, the ageless wonder has carried the Florida Panthers into playoff contention leading them in goals and points. The 44-year-old apparently takes exception to the sentiment that hockey has turned into a young man's game. Jagr has vaulted up the history books this season, making another all star team in the process. His incredible career has spanned 26 seasons in various leagues, playing for several teams. He has reached legendary status both on and off the ice. From busting onto the NHL scene with that famous mullet, to a greybeard old enough to be the dad of his teammates.
He has amassed stats and stories like nobody else in the NHL ever has. An incredible blend of power, speed, and skill on the ice, mentored by Magic Mario, and now a mentor himself. It's not magic that has kept Jagr going, it's an incredible work ethic. We were already incredibly lucky to see a player like Jagr in the 90s, to watch him keep it going into 2016 has been nothing short of spectacular. Here's what you need to know about one of the most interesting athletes of our generation
15 There Were 4 Players Drafted Ahead Of Jagr
Four teams missed out on this generational player. It is clear that scouting in 1990 was not as developed because Jagr's blend of size and talent should have made him the no brainer no.1 pick. The four players selected before him (Owen Nolan, Petr Nedved, Keith Primeau and Mike Ricci) all had very good careers but this is no consolation to the fans of teams who missed out on the chance to see Jagr grow into the one of the most exciting players to ever hit the ice.
14 Jagr Wears no.68 To Honor His Country And Grandfather
Jagr's grandfather passed away during the 1968 Prague Spring, a rebellion that took place in Jagr's home country of Czechoslovakia. This was a very important event in the history of the country that would later become the Czech Republic as it was the start of the resistance to the Soviet Union. Jagr has always shown great pride in his heritage, and has represented his home country exceptionally on and off the ice.
13 You can rearrange the letters in "Jaromir" to spell "Mario Jr"
No. 66 and no.68. Lemieux and Jagr. The most talented and exhilarating combo in NHL history. They led the Pittsburgh Penguins to back to back Stanley Cups lighting up the stat sheet in the process. In 1995 they combined for a staggering 131 goals and 310 points. To put that into perspective, last season the NHL's the top 3 point getters combined for 257 points. That's 53 points less for this trio than that of the dominating Lemieux-Jagr duo.
12 Jagr Became The 4th Player To Score A Goal After Turning 44
The ageless wonder continues to defy the odds performing at an elite level even as he becomes old enough to be the Dad of several of his teammates. He leads the Florida Panthers in goals and assists this season and is on pace to record more points than he did in his rookie year nearly 26 years ago. He was named to the All Star Game this year, 25 years after he was named as a first time all star at the ripe age of 19. At his current pace, Jagr will end his career as the second highest scorer in NHL history.
11 Jagr Was A Wild Child
Jagr became an enemy of Pittsburgh cops racking up speeding tickets just as easily as he dished out assists. His glove box was jam packed with tickets. Hard to blame the guy for being excited, he had just arrived to America for the first time to make millions playing hockey. As his beard greyed, he developed a much more relaxed persona. He is not that energetic young man he used to be, and has turned into an incredible mentor and ambassador to the game of hockey.
10 The Mullet & The Salute
The two attributes that people associate with Jagr more than anything else. The classic highlight features those smooth locks of hair flowing in the wind as Jagr dekes through the defense making them look foolish before putting the puck past the goaltender. Jagr then takes his glove off and salutes the roaring crowd. Sorry Terrell Davis, the mile high salute is cool and all, but Jagr did it first.
9 He Had His Own Peanut Butter Brand
I highly recommend you watch the promotional video for this. A classic flashback to the 90s at the height of Athletes endorsing the strangest brands. Clearly they didn't realize salaries in professional sports were about to explode to unimaginable heights. Back in 2011 a reporter showed him an old jar of the peanut butter, he was thrilled to be reminded of the glory days but was definitely not willing to try the 15 year old peanut butter.
8 A Gold Medal Earned Jagr A Character In A Musical
The opera "Nagano" was created as a tribute to the gold medal winning Czech Republic men's hockey team. They won it all at Nagano in 1998 when NHL players took part in the Olympics for the first time. Jagr was the captain and led the team in points. They became national heroes putting their country on the hockey map for good. They followed their Olympic triumph with three straight World Championships.
7 Jagr Left The NHL For 3 Seasons
Jagr bolted the NHL to play three seasons in the KHL. He wanted to come back to Europe as a tribute to his parents who sacrificed their lives for him. He started to miss the NHL, the rush of a sold out arena, the challenge of competing against the most talented players in the world. If Jagr didn't miss these three NHL seasons, he would have ended up with the second most goals scored in history.
6 Not Even His Talent Matches Up To His Work Ethic
How else could you still be an All Star at the age of 44? His workout regimen is legendary. He skates at night, ever after games, while wearing a 44 pound weight vest and 4 pound weights strapped to his ankles. Instead of pucks he uses weighted discs and prepares for game by stick handling a 10 pound metal donut. He shoots an 8 pound medicine ball against a wall hundreds of times a day. A work ethic like this, combined with his otherworldly talents, and it's not burdensome to understand how he'll go down as one of the best hockey players ever.
5 He's Dealt With Gambling Issues
Jagr has denied to have a gambling problem, but the debts he owed in the late 90s proved otherwise. Back in 2003, he admitted to having settled a $950,000 debt he had accrued between 1998 and 2002. William Cesar, owner of the Belize-based sports gambling website, CaribSports, leaked the story to the press when Jagr had stopped making monthly payments. In addition to that the IRS came after Jagr in 2003, filing a lien against him for unpaid taxes in 2001.
4 The Florida Panthers Lead Jagr In Playoff Goals 94-78
A hockey team consists of 19 players. Jaromir Jagr consists of 1 player. How could this stat possibly be so close? The Panthers joined the NHL just as Jagr was blossoming into a perennial superstar. His career success has far surpassed that of his current teams. As they battle for the playoffs, both the player and the team will look to add to these totals come playoff time.
3 Jagr Was Once Blackmailed
A 18-year-old Czech model hooked up with Jagr and took a selfie of them while he slept. Somebody found the photo on a Czech social media site and told Jagr they would sell it to an American Publication unless he gave them $2,000. Jagr responded in beautiful fashion: "Meh". What's a guy like him got to lose? It turns out the model he hooked up with is now dating a promising junior hockey player who grew up idolizing Jagr. Of course.
2 38% Of NHL Players Were Born After Jagr Made His Debut
Jagr debuted on October 5, 1990. Most of his fellow peers were still crawling, or not even born yet. In fact, 10 of his Panther teammates were not yet born when Jagr played his first game. When his youngest teammate Aaron Ekblad was born, Jagr had already scored 135 goals. The old dog has led these young cats into playoff contention, it would be incredible if they won the Stanley Cup led by a 44-year-old. Would he retire? Nope.
1 Jagr Thinks He Can Play Until He's 50
Reporters thought he was joking when he first confessed to this thought, but it turns out it was one of the few times he sounded serious during the interview, discussing his plans for the future. He has already played for eight NHL teams, and is willing to play for any squad that will give him enough ice time to contribute to the team. Whether this is Jagr's last stand, or if there is still six more to go, it has been one hell of a ride. We salute you #68.
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