Jaromir Jagr was born in Kladno, Czech Republic on Feb. 15th, 1972. He began playing for the Rytiri Kladno U18 team at just the age of 12 and scored 41 points in 34 games as a 12-year-old on a team with 16- and 17-year-olds. Jagr stayed with the Rytiri U18 and U20 teams and their Czech League team all throughout his youth up until his draft year in 1990. What not a lot of people may know, he may never have come to the NHL had it not been for Mario Lemieux. Jagr would tell other NHL GMs that he would not come and play for them if they took him so as to not waste their picks. He loved watching Lemieux play so much that when then-Penguins GM Craig Patrick called and asked Jagr if he would come play for them if they drafted him, Jagr said he would be there tomorrow.
Jagr would immediately make the team out of training camp and go on to have an average rookie regular season. He put up 57 points in 80 games and won the Stanley Cup in his rookie season as well. This, however, was just the beginning of what would be the greatest career of any hockey player not named Wayne Gretzky.
The First Decade
Jagr spent the first 11 seasons of his NHL career with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Well, technically, ten and a half considering the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, which during the lockout, he split his time between the Rytiri Kladno, HC Bolzano of the AlpenLiga and Schalker Haie 87 of the second German league. During his one game played for Schalker Haie 87, Jagr scored 11 points; one of those was a goal, and ten were assists. But what most people remember about him when you mention his name is his time with the Penguins. He impressed straight out of the gate in his first three seasons with 231 games played, 103 goals and 127 assists for a total of 230 points.
That’s nearly a point-per-game pace, and he added a Stanley Cup in his rookie and sophomore seasons to top it all off. The next three seasons are when Jagr really took off. In his next three seasons, including the lockout-shortened 1994-95 season, he played in 210 games, scoring 126 goals and tallying 192 assists for a total of 318 points between the ’93-’94 and ’95-’96 seasons. He had also won his first Art Ross with the team in the lockout-shortened ’94-’95 season with 70 points in 48 games.
So far, in his first six seasons in Pittsburgh and in his career, Jagr has played 441 games, scored 229 goals, tallied 319 assists for 548 points. He had five more seasons in Pittsburgh, playing 365 games, scoring 220 goals and tallying 321 assists for 541 points. In his ten and a half seasons in Pittsburgh, he played 806 games, scored 449 goals and tallied 640 assists for 1,089 points in just 806 games while winning a total of five Art Ross Trophies, a Hart Trophy, two Ted Lindsay Awards and two Stanley Cups in his ten and a half seasons with the team. He had a legendary career in Pittsburgh alone. But in the summer of 2001, Jagr was traded to the Washington Capitals, ushering in his second out of three acts in the NHL.
Part 2: The Capitals and Rangers
By this point, Jagr had already amassed Hall of Fame-worthy career totals, individual awards and Stanley Cup totals, but he was not stopping there. This second act of his three-part NHL career when a total of six seasons (it would have been seven, but the 2004-05 season was completely eliminated by the lockout). He started out his career in Washington with a bang without even playing a single game, immediately signing a seven-year, $77 million contract.
In his only two and a half seasons with the Capitals, Jagr went to work, playing in 190 games, scoring 83 goals, tallying 118 assists for 201 points, once again going over a point-per-game in his time with a team. From the Capitals, he was traded to the Rangers for Anson Carter. Including the lockout eliminated ’04-’05 season, Jagr played three and a half seasons with the Rangers, where he once again went to work. He played 277 games with the Rangers, scoring 124 goals and tallying 195 assists for a total of 319 points.
In the 467 games Jagr played between the Capitals and Rangers, he scored 207 goals, tallied 313 assists for 520 points and once again finished above a point-per-game between the two teams while also earning a Ted Lindsay Award with the latter. By this time, his seven-year contract had expired, and with him wanting to test free agency, he departed to Russia to play with Avangard Omsk for the next three seasons. (from ‘Former Rangers star Jaromir Jagr signs three-yeal deal with Omsk,’ New York Daily News, 07/10/2008)
Part 3: 6 Teams in 6 Years
Up unto this point in his NHL career, Jagr had endured two lockouts, played with three NHL teams, and had scored 656 goals to go along with 1,609 points. If that was not enough of a statement to retire and wait to be inducted into the HOF, he decided to give it one final shot, making his NHL return for the start of the 2011-12 season with the Philadelphia Flyers. He only spent one season with the team, scoring 19 goals and 35 assists for a total of 54 points in 73 games. This would be the first time in his 21-year career in which he wouldn’t average a point-per-game with a team.
Up next on his run were the Dallas Stars and Boston Bruins, this being during the lockout-shortened ’12-’13 season. He played a combined 45 games between the two teams, totaling 16 goals and 19 assists for a total of 35 points. His next stop would be the New Jersey Devils, where he would stay for one and a half seasons, scoring 35 goals, tallying 61 assists for a total of 96 points in 139 games. At the 2014 Deadline, the Devils would trade Jagr to the Florida Panthers and spend two and a half seasons with them.
In 181 games with the Panthers, Jagr scored 49 goals, tallied 81 assists for a total of 130 points and would collect his final piece of hardware, a Bill Masterton Memorial trophy. For his swansong season in the NHL, he signed with the Calgary Flames — his first and only Canadian team, where he scored one goal and six assists in 22 games. Both parties knew Jagr had signed too late, and he was hampered by a lingering injury, so the Flames had sent him back to Kladno. Jaromir Jagr in the NHL, as we knew it, was over for good.
In total, Jagr had played for nine NHL teams over the span of 22 NHL seasons. He won a total of 10 individual awards, five Art Ross Trophies, one Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, three Ted Lindsay Awards and one Hart Trophy. In 22 seasons, he played 1,733 games, which is good for fourth all-time, scored 766 goals, good for third all-time, tallied 1,155 assists, good for fifth all-time for a total of 1,921 points, good for second all-time.
Jagr is the highest-scoring European-born NHL player in history, 13 spots ahead of the next closest European-born player, Stan Mikita. He will go down in history as the greatest hockey player ever, not named Wayne Gretzky. He may have played his last NHL game three seasons ago, but he continues to play for the team that put him on the map, Rytiri Kladno. (from ‘NHL legend Jaromir Jagr is still playing hockey at age 47,’ Indy Star, 02/20/2019) So the legend of Jagr continues to live on.