Jaromir Jagr further solidified his Hall of Fame credentials by passing Phil Esposito for fifth all-time in career goals. By scoring his 718th career goal, a beautiful snipe from the far circle, Jagr moved 13 goals behind Marcel Dionne as the fourth greatest goal scorer in NHL history. It’s not unthinkable that he could surpass Dionne if he plays at least one more year, and, if he were to get incredibly hot, 23 goals would tie him with
Brett Hull for third all-time. To the matter at hand, though: when you score 718 goals, there are bound to be more than a few beauties. Jagr’s list of career highlights is nearly endless and these are the 10 best goals of his career, almost all of which came in a Penguins uniform:
10. 700th career goal – March 1, 2014 It’s not the way he scored the goal or that it’s highlight-reel material that puts goal 700 on the list, it’s the fact that it may be the last time we ever witness a 700-goal scorer in NHL history. With goaltending and defensive hockey continuously getting better, individual goal totals aren’t quite what they used to be. With his 700th career tally, Jagr became just the seventh NHLer to reach the incredible total, joining Mike Gartner, Phil Esposito, Marcel Dionne, Brett Hull, Gordie Howe and Wayne Gretzky.
9. Giveaway leads to Jagr hat trick – Nov. 26, 1999 Incredible hands? Check. Embarrassing a goaltender? Check. The only reason this goal doesn’t rank higher is because it was delivered to Jagr on a silver platter. A young
Zdeno Chara simply coughs the puck up and puts it on the stick of one of the most lethal players in the history of the game.
This was one of 42 goals Jagr scored in 1999-00, as he went on to win the league’s scoring title, his third in a row, with 96 points in 63 games.
8. Jagr breaks Ossi Vaananen – Jan. 17, 2001 Sometimes, when you see a highlight, you almost feel guilty for laughing at the defenseman because you know you could do no better. Jagr’s undressing of
Ossi Vaananen is exactly one of those moments. The inside-outside move that causes Vaananen to crumple to the ice is enough to make you feel bad video footage of this goal exists:
Eddie Olcyzk undersells how great the goal was by saying it was the goal of the week. This had to stand as one of the goals of the year.
7. Boston can’t contain Jagr’s drive to the net – Feb. 6, 1996 Part of what made Jagr so unstoppable – and, frankly, what has kept him around so very long – is when the puck is on his stick he’s nearly unstoppable. Watching this goal from 1995-96 makes you realize just how hard it must have been to knock Jagr off the puck. After knocking
Don Sweeney away from him, Jagr drives to the inside, cuts around a diving Jon Rohloff and tucks the puck into the net past Bill Ranford. It’s this type of physicality that makes Jagr so great to watch.
6. Jagr wins it for the Penguins – April 5, 1991
After seeing how incredibly strong Jagr looks on this play, let it sink in that he finished sixth in Calder Trophy voting in his rookie season, which the 1990-91 campaign was. He finished behind Ed Belfour, Sergei Fedorov, Ken Hodge, Mike Richter and Rob Blake. It’s not that any of those players had terrible careers, but rather that Jagr looks like a grown man playing against boys in this clip. His ability to pull the puck back to his body with one hand and show the patience to wait out Chris Terreri for the overtime winner is remarkable.
5. Can’t believe his own hands – Oct. 27, 2000 The Jagr salute as a post-goal celebration was one of the most recognizable things about hockey in the 1990s and 2000s, but this might be the best goal celebration of Jagr’s career. The goal itself – which turns the
recently recalled Mike Mottau, who is now 37, inside out – ends with Jagr shaking his head in disgust at his own ability.
Not even Jagr can believe Jagr on this one. Maybe there’s a reason why
he was his own favorite player growing up.
4. Washington can’t touch him – May 14, 1995 Using a move similar to that which he used on Vaananen, Jagr again makes a defenseman look helpless. What puts this goal ahead of the one against Phoenix, though, is that he ends it with a more beautiful finish, this time on Jim Carey. It also happened to be Game 5 of the first round of the playoffs, too.
3. Salute to the hometown crowd – Nov. 29, 1997 The celebration says it all. This is Jagr doing what Jagr did best in his younger years, slipping by a check untouched and putting such a move on Montreal Canadiens netminder Jocelyn Thibault that he falls backwards into the net. Jagr's emphatic salute had to get under the skin of opponents, but the only cure for it was to stop him. Easier said than done.
2. Rival Flyers watch Jagr’s incredible hand-eye – March 13, 1999 Every goal we see that’s batted in out of the air is incredible, but picture if one of those goals was scored while the player slid down the ice on their back with a defender underneath them. While it sounds impossible, it’s exactly what Jagr did against the Flyers in 1998-99, his first year as Penguins captain. Ron Hextall immediately signals for the play to be reviewed, but the goal counted and it may be the best hand-eye coordination goal the league has ever seen. It isn’t, however, the greatest Jagr goal all-time.
1. Jagr dekes the Blackhawks in Stanley Cup final – June 1, 1992 When Jagr goes into the Hall of Fame, the video package will include this goal. There’s absolutely no doubt about that. First, Jagr beats Dirk Graham. Then he goes between the legs of Brent Sutter. He follows that up by dancing around Frantisek Kucera. Jagr then uses teammate Shawn McEachern as a pick on Igor Kravchuk, before sliding a backhander past Hall of Fame netminder Ed Belfour. This goal stands as not just Jagr's best, but one of the greatest in Stanley Cup final history.