There may not be a player who has become more universally adored as his career has worn on than Jaromir Jagr. That’s not without reason. Everything he does, Jagr seems to be having a blast and, at 43, he pulled his best Babe Ruth impression and called his shot, saying the Florida Panthers will be bringing home the Stanley Cup in 2016.
In a tweet sent out by Jagr shortly after Chicago’s Stanley Cup win, the surefire Hall of Famer posted a picture of himself with Blackhawks stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane and congratulated the two on their 2015 Cup victory. But he doesn’t want them to get too comfortable, because he’s coming for that Cup with the Cats next season.
If it sounds a bit crazy to picture the Florida Panthers as Stanley Cup champions in 2016, that’s because it is. But you’ve got to love that kind of positivity coming from a veteran who likely knows the Panthers – who didn’t qualify for the post-season in 2014-15 – are still a few years away from making a real run at the Stanley Cup. Even the betting odds say one would have to be crazy to pick the Panthers next season. Bodog has Florida at 75/1 odds to win the Cup, with only Arizona, Carolina and Buffalo lower.
Jagr might be on to something suggesting the Panthers could push for a playoff spot, though. This past season, Florida was a much, much better team than they had been in years prior. They improved their possession game and if they can improve their scoring, the Panthers do stand a shot at least pushing for a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
When he came over to Florida shortly before the trade deadline, Jagr had scored 11 goals and 29 points for the New Jersey Devils in 57 games. Over his 20 games with the Panthers, however, Jagr was nearly a point-per-game player, notching six goals and 18 points in 20 games in the Sunshine State. Before his contract expired – he was set to become a free agent this off-season – Panthers GM Dale Tallon inked Jagr to a one-year extension.
Jagr has been on a pair of Cup-winning squads, but that was early in his career while a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins and playing alongside Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux.