Saturday, 20 February 2016

Phenomenally Ageless

I'm not sure there's any way to deny the legacy and the longevity of Jaromir Jagr's career as anything but phenomenal. From winning a Stanley Cup in 1991 to moving past Brett Hull's 741 career goals tonight, Jagr appears to be having more fun now than during his domination of the 1990s in the NHL. The 44 year-old, who has publicly stated that he wants to play until he's 50, picked up goal #20 tonight against the Winnipeg Jets. More importantly, it was goal #742 as he is now third all-time in the NHL when it comes to lighting the lamp. Not bad at all!

Here is the goal that moved him past Brett Hull.
If you want the answer as to whom Jagr scored on to move into third-place on the NHL's all-time goal-scoring list, that would be Michael Hutchinson. If you're asked who assisted on the goal, your response should be Jussi Jokinen. Jagr, for what it's worth, didn't feel as if the achievement as important as we may be making it out to be.

"It's great, but I don't really think about it, to be honest with you," Jagr told reporters after the game. "I don't feel like I played really well for a few games, so I wanted to make sure I play a little bit better today. I had a little more jump, so it was pretty good."

Not only did he have a little more jump, he certainly had some stealth on the first goal that tied him with Hull. Jagr cut through the slot area and deflected a shot from Dmitry Kulikov that went high on Hutchinson to tie the game as 1-1. In the old days, he'd have one or two defenders hanging off him or hacking him. Today, he snuck in from the high slot to find a gap in coverage, and he got a stick on Kulikov's shot. His timing, hand-eye coordination, and his reading of the play are still better than 99% of the players assigned to defend against him.

He may not have the same wheels as he once did in the 1990s where he could pull away from defenders with a couple of strides, you can see Jagr adapting his game to some of his diminishing skills. His body positioning along the boards is still among the best in the game, but he finds open spaces to create shots and scoring chances as opposed to using his speed and reach like he once did. This is why he's still a 20-goal scorer at age 44: the man puts in an extraordinary amount of work to continue to play at a high level.

Jagr should be included among the names Gretzky, Howe, Lemieux, Richard, and Orr. He's playing at the NHL level and being highly-productive when most players have been on the golf course for years. He works harder than most NHL players, and he does so to stay on top of his game so he can remain productive. And while he may be more than 50 goals from Gordie Howe's 801 career goals, if he plays until he's 50 that number may be passed as well.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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