TAMPA, Fla — If Jaromir Jagr has indeed played the final game of his illustrious National Hockey League career, then Johnny Gaudreau has himself one pretty cool claim to fame.
“I can say I assisted on his last NHL goal if he doesn’t play in the NHL ever again,” the Calgary Flames winger explained following the NHL All-Star Game on Sunday night.
That goal came on Nov. 9 in Calgary against the Detroit Red Wings, the 766th of Jagr’s incredibly prolific career. It was also the only one he scored in 22 games for the Flames after Calgary inked the 45-year-old to a free agent contract in early October.
Reportedly Jagr and the team agreed to unconditional waivers this weekend, and should he clear, the sides would mutually terminate his NHL contract making him free to play in Europe, with Frolunda in the SHL his likely destination.
“What he has been able to do is pretty incredible,” said Sidney Crosby, who recently passed Jagr for second place on the Pittsburgh Penguins all-time scoring list.
“All the different styles of game he had to play through all these years — clutch and grab of the ’90’s, speed game today — and he still excelled at every one. I think it’s pretty amazing, the numbers and what he was able to accomplish.”
Jagr stands as the NHL’s second leading all-time scorer with 1,921 points — just seven this season with the Flames. He is third in goals and fifth with 1,155 assists.
Not only did Jagr leave his mark on the ice and in the record books, but his big personality, leadership and caring for teammates is to be remembered, as well.
“He was great to me,” offered Gaudreau, the 24-year-old All-Star who has 56 points this year. “I talked to him a lot throughout the season in the short amount of time we spent together. He’s been around the game so long, seen a lot of things, so I just picked his brain, on the ice, off the ice. He has so much knowledge, and shared it.”
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Asked for his greatest memory of Jagr, Crosby had to think a while before responding on Sunday.
“I want to say when he walked through four, five guys, that one highlight goal you always see, but I just remember him being a guy you just could not knock off the puck,” shared Crosby. “Even before I was in the league, I was watching him, how he handled the puck, just how strong he was. He dominated games because you couldn’t take the puck off of him. Seeing him and Mario (Lemieux) play together was pretty cool, and, obviously, I’ve played against him over the years now.”
As for what happens next for Jagr?
“Hopefully he gets to play somewhere else in the league. If not, he’s had a great, great career and I was very fortunate to spend 25, 30 games with him,” said Gaudreau.
“I wish him the best.”