We’ll forgive you if you don’t believe us but the ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr may have played his final professional hockey game.
You’ve probably heard some iteration of this before, because like death and taxes, Jagr playing hockey has been an inevitability for the better part of three decades. On Thursday, Jagr completed his 33rd professional season, collecting an assist when HC Kladno defeated Jihlava in Game 7 to earn promotion to the Czech Extraliga, the country’s top competition.
He is also part-owner of HC Kladno, which is simply, an incredible flex.
We said this before in December 2020, but it’s worth repeating, again: Jagr made an immediate impact in the NHL after being selected with the fifth-overall pick in the 1990 NHL Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins, playing a central role during consecutive Stanley Cup wins in 1991 and 1992. If you really want to mark Jagr’s professional longevity, Jagr’s Stanley Cup rings are older than the average NHL player.
Jagr hinted in November that the game is becoming more difficult for him and his motivation is waning, despite having a desire to still play the game, with nothing left to prove. Frankly, Jagr hasn’t had anything to prove since the turn of the century.
“This year is very different from others,” Jagr said to NHL.com. “We don’t know what is waiting for us tomorrow and it takes a lot of energy. This year I wasn’t practicing as hard as in previous years but I still want to play this season. I think it might happen in the playoffs. I want to be a player who helps his team to win. I’m not this player now but I want to help (Kladno) to return to the top division.
“I can’t say how long I want to keep playing. The game is getting more difficult. I think I kind of lost the drive when I wanted to prove that I’m still capable of getting better. I feel a lack of motivation to keep playing, though this year is definitely not the last in my career.”
For this 32-year-old hockey writer, Jagr has been part of my hockey viewing experience for as long as I’ve been alive, and for fans younger than me, he really may seem like an inevitability, a walking cheat code. The fact that he was a defining player of the 1990s — and the 1990s feel like the Mesolithic Era during the pandemic — it’s all the more remarkable.
All of this to say, Jagr isn’t coasting on his iconic status either, registering 10 points in 16 games during the championship run.
If this is the end for Jagr, it’s a remarkable career that’s worthy of its own week-long retrospective. If it isn’t, consider us, among the rest of the hockey world fooled again. Jagr has led us to believe he can do anything he wants on the ice and we’re here for whatever the next chapter of his truly storied career looks like.
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