BRNO, CZECH REPUBLIC—Jaromir Jagr, 45, and a 23-season NHL veteran still has yet to close any deals in the league for the 2017-2018 season, it was announced on Wednesday, August 9.
Last season with the Florida Panthers, Jagr played in all 82 games and recorded 16 goals and 30 assists for 46 points. He also had a plus-2 rating and 56 penalty minutes. When the free agency market opened on July 1, the Panthers refused to extend his contract.
“I’m not thinking about the total number of NHL games. It’s true that when I got back to the NHL (in 2011), I told myself I would very much want to get to 2,000 [NHL] points. But it’s still far away. I didn’t expect it would be so hard to get a job in the NHL this year,” said Jagr.
Jagr, a right-winger and native of Kladno, Czech Republic, is becoming a hockey legend, some may argue. He is ranked second in points in NHL history behind Wayne Gretzky (Jagr currently holds 1,914, Gretzky had 2,857 at the end of his career). With 1,711 career games under his belt, he is 56 short of tying Gordie Howe for most games played all-time. He scored 765 career NHL goals, 36 short of Howe (801), who is ranked second, and 129 behind Gretzky (894), who exceeds Howe for first place.
Jagr, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, commenced his 23 seasons in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who selected him fifth overall in 1990. After 11 seasons with the Pens, he would then play for the Washington Capitals (2001-2004), New York Rangers (he was traded to the Rangers in 2003-2004, and played with the team until 2008), Philadelphia Flyers (2011-2012), Dallas Stars (2012-13), Boston Bruins (2012-2013), and the Panthers (2014-2017). His 1,914 career NHL points are comprised of third-leading 765 goals and 1,149 assists. He has a plus-316 rating and 1,157 penalty minutes. In 208 career playoff games, Jagr tallied 201 points (78 goals and 123 assists), a plus-30 rating, and 163 penalty minutes.
His NHL statistics may have been even higher (he predicted that it would take approximately two seasons for him to tie with Howe in number of career goals) had he not left the United States to pursue a three-year stint (2008-2011) with the Omsk Avangard of the KHL in Russia. He also owns Kladno, a team in the Czech Republic’s second-tier league. He spent five non-consecutive seasons with Kladno in 1988-1989, 1989-1990, 1994-1995 (in addition to the Schalker Sharks of Germany’s Oberliga league, the Bolzano HC in Italy, and the Penguins), 2004-2005 (in addition to Omsk Avangard), and 2012-2013 (in addition to the Stars and, later that season, the Bruins).
“The most serious negotiations I have are with Kladno. Because Kladno has a smart owner who knows what he wants,” Jagr said jokingly. He may have a done deal with Kladno should he not be granted another stint in North America.