Other than a short three-day break it was
business as usual for the NHL over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday. There
were some newsworthy events such as the Columbus Blue Jackets extending their
winning streak to 15 games, the Minnesota Wild having theirs snapped at 12
contests, and a couple of outdoor games. However, the most significant
accomplishment over the past couple of weeks was 44-year-old winger Jaromir
Jagr of the Czech Republic climbing into second place on the NHL’s all-time
scoring list. He achieved the feat with an assist in a home game against the
Boston Bruins on December 22nd.
There’s now just one player between the
Florida Panther veteran and the number one position and that’s a fellow by the
name of Wayne Gretzky. With 2,857 points to his name in 1,487 games played,
Gretzky was still 966 points ahead of Jagr’s 1,891 points. As of January 1st,
Jagr had 756 goals and 1,135 assists. Jagr stood number three on the all-time
goals list behind Gretzky’s 894 and Gordie Howe’s total of 801. As for assists,
Jagr was fifth o the list behind Gretzky (1,963), Ron Francis (1,249), Mark
Messier (1,193) and Ray Bourque (1,169).
Nobody has scored more important goals in
NHL history though as Jagr has 133 game-winners under his belt with Phil
Esposito being second on the list with 118. Jagr was also ranked in the
top-five when it came to games played as he was fourth on the list with 1,667.
The only players to appear in more NHL regular-season contests have been Howe (1,767),
Messier (1,756) and Francis (1,731). There’s an excellent chance that Jagr will
eventually play the most games in NHL history since he doesn’t have any plans
of retiring son.
In fact, Jagr already would be the record
holder for games played if he hadn’t left the NHL in 2008 to play in the KHL
for three seasons before returning to North America. Jagr was taken with the
fifth-overall pick in the 1990 NHL Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. It didn’t
take long for the youngster to prove that he belonged in the world’s best
hockey league as he banged in 27 goals and 30 assists in 1990/91 as a rookie.
Jagr has scored more than 100 points in a season on five occasions with his
best campaign being 62 goals along with 87 assists for 149 points in 1995/96 with
Jagr has spent time with numerous NHL clubs
as he’s also played with the New Jersey Devils, Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars,
Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers and Washington Capitals. He’s also played
in 208 career postseason games with 78 goals and 123 assists for 201 points. Jagr’s
trophy cabinet includes five Art Ross awards for leading the league in point
scoring, three Hart Trophies as the NHL’s most valuable player, three Lester B.
Pearson Awards for being the NHL’s best player and a trio of Ted Lindsay Awards
for being the top goal scorer in a season. He’s scored the most overtime goals
in regular-season play in history and is the oldest player to record three
goals in a game.
As far as team achievements go, the future
Hall of Famer won two Stanley Cups in Pittsburgh, two Olympic medals, four IIHF
World Championship medals and a IIHF World Junior Championship medal. There’s
no doubt Jagr will go down in history as one of the world’s greatest hockey
players due to his longevity and production. As of New Year’s Day he had 23
points in 38 games and claims he plans on playing until the age of 50. If he
does, Jagr should creep a couple of hundred points closer to Gretzky, but it’s
highly doubtful he’ll ever catch him. It certainly would have been interesting
though if he didn’t trade three seasons of NHL hockey for the KHL.
Labels: Ian Palmer