Jagr: Gretzky ‘was from another planet’
Points leader tough to catch
SUNRISE, FLA. | Jaromir Jagr knows No. 2 is as high as he’ll go on the NHL career scoring list.
In his mind, that’s a record in itself.
Jagr’s next point will be the 1,888th of his career and give him outright possession of second place on the all-time NHL points list, breaking a tie with Mark Messier. Only Wayne Gretzky’s total of 2,857 is better than that, and Jagr — the 44-year-old Florida Panthers forward who has said he can see himself playing until he’s 50 — knows the top spot is going to stay far from his reach.
“For me, it’s like No. 1,” Jagr said recently when asked what passing Messier would mean. “I don’t really count Wayne Gretzky. He was from another planet. I don’t think he was
from this planet. Whatever he did, it’s unbreakable.”
Jagr caught Messier on Tuesday with a three-assist effort in Florida’s shootout win over Buffalo. His next chance for the tiebreaker is Thursday, when the Panthers play host to the Boston Bruins.
Jagr would have been No. 2 long ago if not for his leaving the NHL to play in Russia from 2008 through 2011. Jagr collected 146 points in those three seasons, deciding to play there in part because of the proximity to his parents in the Czech Republic. But he missed the NHL, returned to play with Philadelphia in 2011-12 — and has been collecting jerseys since, also logging time with Dallas, Boston, New Jersey and now Florida since coming back to North America.
“It’s an honor to be around him, get a little wisdom from him, get a few laughs from him,” said Florida’s Nick Bjugstad, who scored the goal that became point No. 1,887 for Jagr. “He’s been nothing but awesome for our organization.”
Including playoffs, Tuesday’s threepoint game was the 215th of Jagr’s career.
He’s reached seven points in an NHL game twice, and that’s not even close to his career best. He played one game in a German league in 1994-95 during an NHL work stoppage and racked up 11 points — one goal and 10 assists.
His first NHL point was a goal on Oct. 7, 1990, when he was the youngest player in the league at 18. The goalie who gave that one up was Chris Terreri, who was just in his second full NHL season and a relatively young player at 25.
Terreri had a fine, full career and his last NHL game was 16 years ago. Jagr is still going, with no end in sight.
“The way he comes to work every single day is unbelievable,” Panthers interim coach and general manager Tom Rowe said.
The NHL is made up of two conferences, six divisions and 30 arenas. And to illustrate how long Jagr has been in that league, consider that he’s played in four conferences, 11 divisions and 57 different arenas.
That doesn’t even include four neutral-site arenas, or two baseball stadiums — Yankee Stadium in New York, and Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.
“He’s kind of inspired us with his passion and dedication,” Messier said.
For Messier, going to No. 3 on the alltime scoring list is merely a formality. He said the huge numbers Jagr put up early in his career deserve credit on their own, and now he merits more of the same credit for staying so fit and committed at this point in his life.
“This is kind of anticlimactic for me in a way,” said Messier, a former teammate of Jagr with the New York Rangers. “I understand the amount of time that he put in overseas when he left the NHL and came back and the amount of points he amassed over there and where he would be if he would have stayed (here). So I guess in my own mind he surpassed me a long time ago.”
Jaromir Jagr’s next point will be the 1,888th of his career and give him sole possession of second place on the all-time NHL scoring list. He would trail only Wayne Gretzky’s 2,857 total.