Once upon a time, Jaromir Jagr said he wanted to keep playing hockey until he was at least 50. That seemed like an outrageous claim, but Jagr is one of few players who might actually be able to make that happen. Now that he has a new one-year contract with the Calgary Flames, Jagr’s expectations appear to be a bit more grounded in reality.
This might be Jagr’s final season in the NHL.
Jaromir Jagr: "At 99.9 percent, this is my last season in NHL. So I am happy I will play for Canadian team finally."
— Tomas Pokorny (@Topicek) October 2, 2017
Note that the 45-year-old Jagr said this is likely his last season in the NHL, but he doesn’t say this is his last season playing hockey. It’s been widely assumed that Jagr will play abroad long after his NHL days are behind him.
Jagr has a legitimate chance to surpass Gordie Howe for the record for most games played in NHL history. He needs to skate in 56 more games to tie Howe and 57 to claim the record for himself. His decision to sign with the Flames was mostly based on the opportunity the team could give him, specifically ensuring he’d receive regular playing time. They’ll also represent the first Canadian team he has skated for throughout his historic career.
So, what happened to Jagr’s ambition to play until he was 50 or older? It may have something to do with how hard it was for Jagr to find a contract this season. He did eventually land with the Flames, but it wasn’t until the very last gasp of the offseason.
How crazy is it that Jagr will have a teammate, Matthew Tkachuk, who is the son of a player he was drafted with (Keith Tkachuk) back in 1990? Insane. If this really is the end, all hockey fans need to sit back and enjoy the last ride.
Jagr’s pride is going to kick in at some point and that will likely signal the end of his truly remarkable NHL career.