There comes a moment in every great athlete’s career when the inexorable forces of time and age win out, and all of a sudden, the world sees that he just doesn’t have it anymore. Amazingly, that time doesn’t appear to be anywhere on the horizon for Jaromir Jagr. So, as Jagr approaches the end of his 21st NHL season at age 43, it bears repeating: he’s an international treasure. Let’s take a moment to appreciate him.
Of course, there are the basic statistics. He’s scored the fifth-most goals in NHL history, 721. He currently sits tied for fourth in points in league history with 1,798. Over the course of his career, he’s averaged 1.16 points per game, good for 17th in NHL history. All that having played three productive seasons in the KHL (from 2008-11) and enduring all three of Gary Bettman’s lockouts.
Then there are the fancy stats. We didn’t begin keeping track of advanced metrics like Corsi until well past Jagr’s prime. But, in the three-year period from 2011-2014, when Jagr was between the ages of 38 and *ahem* 41, his Corsi percentage ranked 31st among players who played at least 1000 minutes during that timespan. He’s continued to produce top line numbers into his 40s.
Before he became known as “the old guy still getting it done at the highest level,” however, he was simply the best player in the league post-Gretzky. No one was more exciting to watch, or flashier, or cooler. Jagr was always just a bit better than Selanne, more dynamic than Sakic or Yzerman, a better playmaker than Hull. He was almost as good of a skater as Bure, and was more elusive than Messier. He lasted longer than Lemieux.
His longevity, fueled by an irrepressible work ethic, has enabled the current generation of hockey fans to marvel at him. His post-game workout routines are the stuff of legend. He wants to play until he’s 50.
But perhaps most importantly, it’s Jaromir Jagr’s personality and charisma that have made him such an endearing figure—whether he’s been scoring for your team or against it. It’s the Traveling Jagrs he inspired. It’s the greatest hockey mullet of them all:
Jaromir Jagr (FLA): 1,798 career points, tying Ron Francis for fourth all-time. Next is Gordie Howe, 1,850 pic.twitter.com/kNaLzo6Tbl
— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) April 3, 2015
It’s the sense of humor. And it’s the I’m-the-man confidence and smile:
So keep rockin’, Jags. Keep dominating possession as a quadragenarian. Keep outworking guys half your age. And please, keep smiling. Because sooner or later, mean ol’ Father Time will force you to hang ’em up.