When my older brother and I were kids our dad took us to an NHL All-Star practice. Admittedly, almost as exciting as the practice itself was not having to go to school that day as the practice was in the afternoon. It was 1989 and the game was being held in Edmonton that year.
I look at the roster to see all the names on the both the Campbell Conference and Wales Conference rosters and I’m absolutely astounded at the star power that was on the ice all at once – and we were right there to witness it. A young Brett Hull playing in his first All-Star game; Wayne Gretzky; Mario Lemieux; Steve Yzerman; Mark Messier; Pat Lafontaine; Ray Bourque; and our very own Dino Ciccarelli just to name a few. We were fairly young but I remember we were in complete awe, and all these years later I’m very thankful to my dad for the experience.
And now we have Jaromir Jagr – a player who sits 8th on the all-time points list throwing on the black and gold for likely just this one season – and a shortened season at that. With the 48 game schedule, that gives Stars fans just 24 chances to witness live one of the greatest players to play the game in what could possibly be his very last go-round. Of course that’s not counting any possible missed games, or any added games should the Stars make the playoffs.
Obviously we know he isn’t in his prime – as so many feel the need to point out. He’s not the kid with the wicked mullet putting up a point and a half per game anymore, but that’s not what anybody in the organization was expecting when he was signed. As we saw last season though with Philadelphia in his return to the NHL after a three year hiatus, the man can still play. He can still protect the puck probably better than anyone, he can still deke a goalie out of his shorts, and he can still make plays that will make you say “Whoa!”.
With his 19 goals and 54 points in 73 regular season games, he would have placed 5th on the Stars in points and 4th in goals. He also added 8 points in 11 playoff games. And coming to a team that will depend on him even more than what the Flyers did, it’s possible those numbers go up. He’s a definite upgrade to the top six and should help a power play that was 25th in the league last year at a woeful 13.3%. He was dominating the league playing for his hometown Kladno during the lockout scoring 24 goals and 57 points in 34 games – so I expect he’s fully ready to go and in great shape as usual.
Jaromir Jagr is what you call a generational player, and when it’s all said and done his name will be placed among the greatest who have ever played this game. He’s a guaranteed first ballot Hall of Famer and players like him just don’t come around too often. To put it in to perspective, this franchise is now 46 years old and has produced just one player who can even be placed in the same conversation as Jagr – and I don’t need to tell you who that is. As players like that retire from this game, we wish we could see them play just one more time.
So get out there and take advantage Stars fans. Take your kids if you got em too, so that 20+ years from now they can look back and say that they saw one of the greatest players to ever lace em up – and they saw him in a Stars uniform. It will mean something, trust me.
Thanks for reading. Check me out on Twitter at travcurrie