As Florida Panthers winger Jaromir Jagr skates towards his 45th birthday this coming February, it is amazing that we are still talking about him as an active NHL player. Slowing down is not something that is in his vocabulary. He is defying the normalcy of the aging process as he seems to be aging like a nice bottle of fine wine; this is in respect to his abilities on the ice, off the ice as he takes tremendous care of his body, and of course, his hair which is making a patient transition into his signature look from his early 90’s playing days, a business-in-the-front and party-in-the-back hairstyle coined as the mullet.
What’s the big deal? The big deal is that he is currently in 3rd place on the NHL all time list of points leaders, only Hall of Famer Mark Messier and “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky sit above him to round out the top three.
Here are the numbers: Messier sits unsteadily in second place with 1,887 points through his 25-year, 1,756 game NHL career, which has finished since he retired in 2004. Gretzky sits comfortably at the top of the list having played in 1,487 games over a 21-year period with 2,857 points. Untouchable. Insert Jagr. He has played 1,659 games, is currently still playing games in the National Hockey League, and has accumulated 1,883 points thus far, just 5 points shy of Messier’s.
At this point it is not a matter of if he will slide into second, it is a matter of when. Panthers fans and Jagr fans alike can go online and take a stab at #PREDICTINGHISTORY by guessing the day, opponent, period of game and whether the point will be a goal or an assist for a chance to win a trip to an away Panthers game. It’s all about entertaining the fan, right?!
Messier is well aware of the fact that in the very near future he will have to forfeit his resting spot of second place to Jagr as he is cruising along this season already with 15 points, which is tied for third most on the Florida Panthers team. As hockey fans we seem to forget the fact the Jagr left the League from 2008-2011 to play in the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
As the media addressed Messier this morning, he was asked about how he thought Jagr’s points would have been different if he hadn’t left the NHL for the amount of time he did.
“Yeah, this is kind of anti-climactic for me in a way,” Messier said on a conference call. “I understand the amount of time he put in overseas when he left the NHL and then came back, and the amount of points he amassed over there and where he would be if he would have stayed there. I guess in my own mind here he has surpassed me a long time ago. I had another chance in my first year of pro in the WHA and I amassed all of 12 points or 11 points in a different league. I wasn’t quite as productive as he was! The totals he’s amassed as a professional hockey player are astounding.”
Messier then commented on Jagr’s play of the game, seeing as he is not yet retired, and has made no mention of it for the near future.
“He’s still very powerful on the puck,” he said. “He’s playing with some great players. What it boils down to eventually is what he wants and how he wants to contribute to the team as the team improves and where he can play. There is probably no question that in certain areas of the game and the team, that he can still be productive. Those will be the questions that he’ll have to answer as he goes along, and the team will have to answer as well. There doesn’t seem to be signs of him slowing down at this point. He still seems to be a force even at his age right now, with his reach and his strength there, he’s not easy to maintain in the offensive zone and thus he becomes very dangerous and productive still.”
New Yorkers, Canadians, and hockey fans worldwide will always respect Hall of Famer Mark Messier whether he is second, third, or in any other place on the all time points list. We will all respect Jaromir Jagr for everything he has done and will continue to succeed at while playing this beloved game.
Much respect to both of these gentlemen.