There have been times over the years when Jaromir Jagr was a great source of frustration.
That’s because you knew he was capable of being one of the best players in the NHL, yet he floated in some games like he didn’t give a hoot. Fans in Washington know what that is all about.
To his credit, though, Jagr once told former THN senior writer Mark Brender it wasn’t that he didn’t want to succeed with the Caps; he just couldn’t play to his potential in their stifling system.
Regardless, the Jaromir Jagr I saw in this past season’s playoffs was a throwback to the days when he played with passion. He racked up 15 points in 10 games and looked decidedly energized. That is the reason why I am going to miss him now that he has set sail for the new Russian Continental League.
The NHL has more than its share of young stars with Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin leading the way, but Jagr is one of the league’s connections to the old days. You know, the pre-lockout days.
A two-time Stanley Cup champ and three-time scoring leader, Jagr’s best days are behind him, no question about that. But with the way he played this past season, there is also no question he can still be a vital NHLer; a big lug who likes to carry the puck and is still willing to pay a price to score goals.
That’s why I was so surprised no team stepped up to the plate with an offer that would keep him in North America. The Vancouver Canucks offer Mats Sundin, a player who has no Cups and just one 100-point season to his credit, $20 million for two years. Why wouldn’t they table a similar offer to get Jagr?
Nashville could use a little star power, same with Florida, Columbus and Montreal.
Oh well, what’s done is done.
Never thought I’d say this, but I’m going to miss the big Czech.
Mike Brophy, the co-author of the book Walking with Legends, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor on THN.com. His blog appears Mondays and his column, Double OT, appears Wednesday.
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