Monday, November 21, 2005

Jagr The (J)Great

After the lockout ended there were rumors that Jagr would stay in Russia, Siberia actually, with a team called Avangard Omsk and not play in the NHL. In 32 games with them he would score 18 goals and 38 points. Prior to that he led his Czech team, HC Rabat Kladno to the World Championship with 11 goals and 28 points in 17 games. This follows the pattern of his NHL career where in 1,050 games he has scored 556 goals and 1,344 points. He is truly a point a game player. This year in 23 games he has scored 19 goals and 35 points. This World Class Player has been dominate in three continents, North America, Europe and Asia.

He lived up to his contract and is playing for the Rangers. Oh boy, is he playing. The new annoyance making the rounds is that when the Rangers flounder he will be dealt to a contender for a couple of prospects. It is Jagr's intention that the Rangers do not flounder. Indeed when it is mentioned that the Rangers are in a rebuilding year he bristles and says this team can make the playoffs. That would fly in the faces of many a pundit, including this one, who thought that the Rangers would be lucky to just finish period. Right now the Rangers are in first place in the Atlantic Division with 29 points, one behind Eastern Conference leader Carolina. Imagine, after 23 games the Rangers have 29 points.

Jaromir Jagr is no ordinary player. In his first two years the Penguins won the Stanley Cup. He has gone over 100 points in a season 4 times. He has scored over 50 goals in a season twice. Since 1990-91, his initial year, he has more points than any other player during that period and the second most goals, Brent Hull is first in goals and has the second most assists, Adam Oates is first in assits. He trails Hull by 39 goals and Oates by 67 assists. Barring injuries this could be a record breaking year for him. It looks like a record breaking year for the league what with the new rules.

He is a team player with a huge perspective on the history of the NHL. I remember watching Wayne Gretzky's last game as a Ranger in the Garden. They were playing the Penguins, without Lemieux. The Rangers tied the score on an assist from Wayne Gretzky, which pleased the crowd who wanted a goal from The Great One. The game went into OT and was won by a goal from Jaromir Jagr. There was no celebration on his part. He acted like he was sorry he scored the goal, after all this was Wayne's night. After he was mobbed by his teammates Jagr noticed that they were skating off the ice. He was the Captain of the Penguins then. He immediately went after them and made sure they stayed at their bench and watched the entire proceedings for Wayne Gretzky. Jagr's comments were something to the effect that this was a part of the NHL history and it must be viewed and must be respected. Now we view and respect Jaromir Jagr for the great player he is.

He is only 33 years old but seems to be playing like 25. He has these young players around him like Prucha, Lundqvist, Tyutin and the Kamikaze Kids and he wants them to continue to learn, continue to grow and continue to win. He wants the Rangers to win and accomplish something. He aspired to be a Ranger prior to being traded to the Capitals. That was a bad trade. Bad for him, bad for the Rangers and bad for the Penguins. The GM, Craig Patrick out of spite for being bounced as the Ranger GM years before, traded him to the Caps for three guys named Beech, Sivek and Lupaschuk. Honestly I did not make up those names. But he is here now and maybe he can accomplish the miracle in New York. Maybe he can be Bobby Thompson in the bottom of the ninth; or Joe Namath who led the Jets over the Colts; or maybe Joe Paterno who went from nowhere (4-7) to a BCS Bowl (10-1). Worst case if he doesn't he will give us a lot of exciting moments and a lot of fun. These things have been missing in the Garden for far too long. Jaromir Jagr, one of the all time greats and we get to view him in New York.

ICINGS: You're never too old for the carnival.

Carnival of the NHL #13 [Behind the Jersey]

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