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Will Jagr finally show his age next season?

Aug 30, 2014, 10:11 AM EST

New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils Getty Images

During his prime years, Jaromir Jagr was often a polarizing figure, but at 42, he’s essentially in his “Teemu Forever” stage of being widely beloved.

Of course, he’ll turn 43 during his second season as a member of the New Jersey Devils, so the question must be uttered once again: will this finally be the year that he looks like an old man?

No signs of slowing down

His work in the 2013-14 season defies logic. While some bounces likely went his way, it’s not like he scored 24 goals and 67 points by accident. His shooting percentage was a modest 10.4, which only looks imposing compared to his bizarre playoff run with the Boston Bruins (zero goals on 58 shots in 22 games in the 2013 postseason).

The thing that might be most surprising is that he was stunningly dominant in possession stats, something that aging players rarely accomplish (Jarome Iginla was a nice asset for Boston last season, yet the underlying numbers argue that he was at least slightly propped up by Milan Lucic and David Krejci).

Devils blog In Lou We Trust captured his fanciful stats from last season while tabbing him as the clear team MVP:

Oh, what would this team be without Jaromir Jagr this season? He’s the team’s leader in points with 24 goals and 43 assists. He’s the team’s leader in shots on net with 231. He’s the team’s leader in both Corsi For% and relative Corsi For% in 5-on-5 play at 59.2% (!) and +7.1% (!!) among regulars per Extra Skater. The latter is important to note because being present for shooting attempts and generating them means that when he’s on the ice, the play is going forward. Even by the eye test, #68 has constantly picked on defensemen and forwards along the boards, in the corners, and even in open ice. The remarkable thing isn’t that he’s done all this at the age of 42. It’s that he’s done all this and made skeptics like me not only look foolish but seriously feel that bringing him back may be a good idea.

The fall can be dramatic

Jagr is a noted fitness buff, yet sports history is stacked with players who saw dramatic drops in a single season. Even gracefully aging icon Teemu Selanne dropped to healthy scratch status during the Anaheim Ducks’ turbulent 2014 postseason and that’s a rather mild example of how jarring the fall to mediocrity recall can be.

If motivation is a factor, the Devils must hope that Jagr really cares about milestones, then:

All-time points leaders:

4. Ron Francis – 1,798
5. Marcel Dionne – 1,771
6 tied. Jagr – 1,755 and Steve Yzerman 1,755

All-time goals leaders:

3. Brett Hull – 741
4. Dionne – 731
5. Phil Esposito – 717
6. Mike Gartner – 708
7. Jagr – 705

Even a limited-but-healthy Jagr could probably finish 2014-15 in the top five in both categories, but if he really wants to stick around for a while, why not flirt with fourth?

***

Ultimately, it’s been a great run for Jagr, and he doesn’t seem interested in ending it anytime soon. NHL teams have little reason to pull the plug, either … at least so far.

  1. lowenni - Aug 30, 2014 at 10:18 AM

    I think he’s got at least this season left in him where he’s still a quality producer. He works out like crazy but I think it’s the improved team that will have him playing hard again this season. Can never count this guy out, he’s lost some speed, but his size helps him make up for that and that’s why he’s still very effective.

  2. charastein - Aug 30, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    I’d love to see Jagr test the limits of age. How long can he play and still be a factor and not a liability? I’m rooting for him to have the longest career he can!

    Good luck Jagr! I hope you show them all that you’ve got more in the tank!

  3. 19to77 - Aug 30, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    Look at it this way – if he hadn’t left for the KHL back in 2008, he’d probably be third in NHL scoring, all-time. Hell, he’d have a good shot at second – and certainly would have made it this year. This is one of the single greatest players of the game of hockey. Ever. Expect him to be pretty good this year too.

  4. bush1069 - Aug 30, 2014 at 10:01 PM

    He’s good …most athletes don’t know when they should go …and if he half as good this year it’s still good enough

  5. beergold - Aug 31, 2014 at 7:56 AM

    Jagr is just a pup…Gordie Howe played his last professional hockey game at about 55 I believe so I’d say he’s good for another ten seasons.

  6. c9castine - Sep 2, 2014 at 1:15 PM

    id say hes got a really good chance of becoming 4th overall in points, and 4th overall in goals. if he has a strong season again, or (who would be surprised at this point) plays one more year still, he has a chance to become 3rd overall in goals scored (26 to go)

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