Earlier this month, the Penguins commemorated the 25th anniversary of their back-to-back Stanley Cups, and most of the players from those teams were on hand in Pittsburgh to celebrate. Not Jaromir Jagr. He had a game that night.
Jagr is old, is what I’m saying. He’s 44, and he’s played in 1,663 games, and his longevity should absolutely not be seen as the cause of the milestone he set last night. In fact, it’s the other way around: They don’t let you play until you’re 44 if you can’t keep scoring. And now, only one man in NHL history has scored more than Jaromir Jagr.
Jagr passed Mark Messier for second place on the NHL’s all-time scoring list, picking up a fluke assist—the 1,888th point of his career—when a shot bounced off his notoriously formidable butt, and Aleksander Barkov put back the rebound.
Officials had to review the goal, but Jagr let everyone in the building know the assist was his. He immediately gestured to his rump, and as he sat on the bench waiting for the ruling he thumped his chest and gave the home crowd a thumbs up.
And when it was official, play was stopped for a ceremony and on-ice interview, in which Jagr put it as plainly as he could.
He is not going to catch Wayne Gretzky’s 2,857 career points—I feel pretty safe in saying that no one ever will—but it may be a long time before anyone catches Jaromir Jagr. Joe Thornton is second on the active list with 1,363 points, but he’s 37 years old. You have to go all the way down to Alex Ovechkin (989) and Sidney Crosby (975) to find anyone with even a mathematical possibility of skating down Jagr, and all they’d have to do is replicate their already-unbelievable numbers until they’re 40.
The Panthers fell to the Bruins last night 3-1, and the loss kind of put a damper on things.
“I was dreaming about something else,” Jagr said. “I thought I was going to score beautiful goal, beautiful assist, and we’re going to win the hockey game. Obviously, it didn’t go the way I wanted it to go, but the best thing is just to put it behind us and the whole team should concentrate on winning the games. We didn’t play very well today.”
Bummer for the Panthers and their fans, sure, but I don’t care about any of them. It’s just a pleasure for the rest of us to get to watch Jagr still do his thing. I literally cannot remember an NHL without Jaromir Jagr in it, and—this might be even more telling—I can’t really conceive of one without him.