Jaromir Jagr never played a game for the Vegas Golden Knights. But his impact on three key members of the organization and the overall hockey world has been present.
He was coached by current Golden Knights head coach Bruce Cassidy when they were with the Washington Capitals from 2002-04. He also played with both Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault when with the Florida Panthers in the mid-2010s. Smith and Jagr also played together in Dallas.
The 50-year-old workhorse has played professional hockey for over two decades. But based on his comments to Czech media outlet iSport, it looks like Jagr’s illustrious career could be coming to an end.
“To be honest, I don’t even want to go back… I’d probably have to force myself to go play… I don’t have the motivation. I don’t feel like it…” Jagr said regarding a return to play for Kladno of the Czech league.
If this does mark the end for Jagr, he finishes with one of the greatest resumes in NHL history, up there with Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe. He is second in all-time NHL points, only behind Gretzky, and fourth in both goals and games played.
He is a two-time Stanley Cup Champion with the Pittsburgh Penguins, an Olympic Gold Medalist, World Champion, a 5x Art Ross (most points) winner, an NHL MVP, and so much more.
Here’s what both Jonathan Marchessault and Bruce Cassidy had to say regarding Jagr.
Jonathan Marchessault & Reilly Smith
“Obviously, he is one of the best and one of the greatest. It’s sad to see it come to an end, but at 50 years old, it’s still quite impressive,” said Marchessault, Jagr’s teammate in 2016-17.
When playing in Florida, then coach at the time Gerard Gallant played Jagr with Jonathan Huberdeau and Alexander Barkov, but there were times when Jagr played alongside Smith and Marchessault.
“He was an entertaining person to have around and really fun to have around. I just remember going out to dinner with him; everyone would sit around him just to listen to him talk,” added Marchessault.
Marchessault says Jagr would frequently talk about his years in Pittsburgh and how Mario Lemieux’s injuries put a halt to what could have been successful Penguins teams.
“He always talked a lot about the years with Mario (Lemieux) and when they had really good teams, but Mario was injured. He felt like they could have had a lot more success, I think,” said Marchessault.
The Golden Knights missed the playoffs last season for the first time in franchise history, with the main proponent being injuries. Marchessault says he sometimes looks to the stories that Jagr shared with how injuries halted some of his teams. Jagr taught Marchessault to “not find excuses” and to “find solutions” instead.
“At the end of the day, we were just four points out with the group we had. I think we could have managed to get those four points somewhere,” said Marchessault.
It was a much different time when Bruce Cassidy coached Jaromir Jagr as the head coach of the Washington Capitals. Jagr was one of the premier players in the league, and Cassidy was entering his first NHL head coaching role. Cassidy was 37 years old then, and Jagr had just hit 30.
“I was a young guy in Washington. There was a lot written about him. There were some days that were more difficult than others. But there were a lot of enjoyable conversations. He was a guy that loved to talk hockey. Sometimes catching him on the right day made for good memories,” said Cassidy.
Jagr led the 2002-03 Capitals in scoring, but they were out in the first round of the playoffs. In 2003-04 the Capitals missed the playoffs, and Cassidy was let go after eight wins in 28 games.
“He was a very good player for us, if not our best player. So there were a lot of enjoyable times. But there were other times where it was it was frustrating because of his individual preparation versus maybe what we wanted to get accomplished,” said Cassidy.
Despite some tough times in Washington, Cassidy remembers Jagr’s poise and respect for his teammates.
“I remember playing Florida at home. We were up big after two periods, and he was having one of those nights where he could have challenged Darryl Sittler’s record (10 points in a game)… But he wanted to have the other guys out there and do what’s best for the team,” Cassidy recalled.
After 24 seasons in the NHL, eight in the Czech League, and three in the KHL, Jaromir Jagr deserves a Jagr salute from all of us if this is truly the end of his career.
“His legacy is probably going to be unmatched. Other than that Gordie Howe who played longer in terms of age? Obviously there was a tremendous passion for the game,” added Cassidy.