During the Eastern Conference Finals the question was who was the better pick up at the trade deadline; Jarome Iginla to the Pittsburgh Penguins, or the Jaromir Jagr to the Boston Bruins. And though it seemed that the Penguins fared better with Iginla who had 4 goals and 8 assists going into the series, Jagr has proved to be a great fit in Boston. He has 10 assists in the playoffs and though he hasn’t netted any goals, the future hall-of-famer has proven through his play that he fits well with the team he’s on as he continues to play well through the Stanley Cup Finals, something Iginla isn’t doing with the Penguins.
But as we all know Boston fans aren’t too keen on big name players not producing on any team. So, even though he’s getting the assists and putting in a lot of work, people now comment on some of his abilities, like his lightning fast speed (cough, cough) and some of his decision making. Some even comment on his lack of physicality. So, the new question in some fans’ minds is, was Jagr worth it? The answer is simple, yes, but the explanation takes a little more time.
Having a guy like Jaromir Jagr, an NHL legend, in the locker room is a real treat for a lot of the young guys on the team. David Krejci gets the opportunity to play with his childhood idol and fellow countryman, who sings high praises of the Hulk Line formed by Krejci, Nathan Horton, and Milan Lucic. It’s a type of verteranship that really helps young players get a hold of their game as well as give them some confidence. When Jaromir Jagr tells you you’re doing things right, you’re doing things right.
Not only does his words of encouragement and wisdom give the guys more confidence, his work ethic is something everyone can learn from. Jagr is on the ice every night, on nights off or after games, with a weighted vest and a weight on his stick. He’s always working to improve his game. Even at his age he realizes that things can always be perfected. And that’s something that guys really can feed off of.
Let’s go back the good ol’ days for the 41 year old winger. Jagr came into the league in 1990-1991 and scored 27 goals and got 30 assists through 80 regular season games as the 5th overall pick in the draft. In the playoffs he scored 3 goals and got 10 assists that same year. Since then he’s had 8 seasons in the NHL with 30+ goals, three seasons with 40+ goals, two seasons with 50+ goals, and one season where he scored 62 goals and got 87 assists along with them. This makes his career totals pretty impressive. He’s played in 1,391 regular season games, netting 681 goals and 1,007 assists. He’s played in 199 playoff games, getting 78 goals an 119 assists. Pretty impressive if you asked me.
Jagr is currently playing on the second line with center Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand on left wing. He started on the third line with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverly, but the second line needed some offensive help and Julien thought Jagr could be the answer. Since then Bergeron and Jagr have meshed extremely well, as Jagr has a hand in the last three goals scored by number 37 in the Stanley Cup Finals. Through his ability to maintain puck control in the offensive zone, he allows his linemates to elevate their game, as well as the entire Bruins powerplay. Jagr’s ability to see the ice and create offensive chances has become a huge help on the man advantage, something the Bruins haven’t been able to get going in a very long time. The powerplay still isn’t incredible, but they manged to score 2 PP goals in last night’s Game Four. Along with his vision of the ice, he also has some of the best hands in the NHL and is constantly showing his ability through perfectly placed passes for teammates to pick up for scoring chances.
In an interview after one of the Stanley Cup Finals games, reporters asked Jagr how he felt about his scoring drought. He came back with the fact that he’s scored plenty of goals in his career and he’s just happy to contribute in any way he can. He’s just happy to be a part of this team. And it shows. Jagr’s game has never been one of speed or physicality. He plays a flashy and finesse game with quick, soft hands and a scoring touch to match. However, since he’s been in Boston, you can really see how he’s managed to transform his game to do the little things Claude Julien expects from everyone. Of course he still tries to let his 20 year old self shine through, but it’s not about him scoring goals, it’s about the team winning games and being the number one priority. He goes in the corners to battle for pucks. He’ll take a hit to make a play and he’ll get in the middle of an argument to be there for his teammates without batting an eyelash. And that’s what being a Boston Bruin is all about.
So no, Jagr may not be the fastest guy for the Bruins or the one scoring all the goals, but he’s in Boston now and he’s proven that he’ll be a Bruin until the end, (of the 2013 season anyways) win or lose. Jaromir Jagr was the right move for the Boston Bruins and still has a lot to give and I couldn’t be happier as a Bruins fan to see him finally wear the right black and gold.
(But really Jagr, can I have a salute in a Bruins uniform, pretty please?)