May 30, 2014, 10:33 AM EDT
One year as Jaromir Jagr‘s head coach was enough for Peter DeBoer to rank No. 68 among the best ever in one fairly important category.
“On the hockey rink he’s as good as I’ve ever seen,” DeBoer said, per the New Jersey Star-Ledger. “He’s maybe the best puck possession player of all time. You talk about (Wayne) Gretzky and what he was able to do with his playmaking ability and (Mario) Lemieux with his package of size and speed and skill.
“For me this is the best puck possession player of all time.”
Puck possession can be quantified in a number of ways. There’s the good ol’ fashioned eye test which, given Jagr’s lengthy body of work, is easy to conduct — heck, you could make the argument about his unparalleled puck possession skills with this highlight video alone:
There’s also advanced metrics to consider. In the case of Corsi — a statistic measuring a players’ goals, shots on net, shots that miss the net, and shots that are blocked — Jagr ranks exceptionally high, especially for his age; he finished eighth among all NHL skaters in Corsi last season (59.2 percent) and 15th in Corsi relative, at 7.1 percent (this figure reflects how his possession stats compared to New Jersey’s stats when he wasn’t on the ice.)
Even without the metrics or eye test, it’d be hard to refute DeBoer’s claim. Since breaking into the NHL in 1990, Jagr’s always been one of the biggest and strongest forwards in the league, and his ability to hold off players while retaining the puck was a signature move during the prime of his career.
Amazingly, Jagr doesn’t seem to be slowing down despite turning 42 in February. He’s signed on for one more year with the Devils and, to hear DeBoer explain it, the surefire Hall-of-Famer is looking to cement his status as the greatest puck possession player of all time — among other things.
“His whole focus is on having another really great NHL season and hunting down a few more records,” DeBoer said. “And hopefully leading our team into the playoffs.”
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