Big Week for Jaromir Jagr
Jaromir Jagr, fresh off a terrific season for the New Jersey Devils and being named team MVP, now has two more rewards for his great play in 2013-14. He’s been re-signed by New Jersey for another year, and has been named one of the three finalists for the NHL’s Masterson Trophy.
Jagr, age 42, was the Devils leading point getter and assist man, and was second on the team in goals this past season. He played all 82 games of the NHL season and competed in the Olympics, proving to the organization that he is still capable of playing at a high level. Commenting on his new contract to NHL.com staff writer Mike G. Morreale, Jagr said, “I didn’t mind that at all. I was happy here and had no reason to change. If I’m happy somewhere and feel like the other side is interested, there’s no reason to change.”
Jagr set numerous records of his own in his first season with the Devils, moving higher up the list of goals and assists as he passes some of the greatest names in the NHL. He is now 20th all-time in games played (1,473), seventh in goals (705), eighth in assists (1,050) and sixth in points (1,755). He also led the Devils with six game-winning goals, an intangible ability that unfettered by age.
This is a good start to the off-season for the Devils. They needed to retain their best player from a year ago, especially on a low-risk, high-reward contract — if Jagr does break down, it is only a year long contract. If he plays well, it was a cheap way of continuing to get the most out of one of your best players.
On the same day the contract was handed out, Jagr was also proudly announced as a finalist for the 2013-14 Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey.
On perseverance alone, Jagr deserves to win. He’s still going strong at an age so few active players reach (even if they do, they aren’t performing at the high level of productivity that Jagr has shown). Jagr exhibits sportsmanship when he plays, as you never hear him bash an opponent or take cheap shots at someone else on or off the ice. He plays the right way and shows respect to everyone. If watching him on the ice isn’t enough to prove that point, he’s somehow managed to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, and now the New Jersey Devils. Despite all of those teams being detested rivals, he has been welcomed with open arms by both the players and the fans. Dedication to hockey is another easy characteristic to attribute to Jagr: he’s played for 24 years in the NHL, the Olympics, and the Russian hockey league. What‘s more dedicated than playing a grueling sport into your 40s?
The New Jersey Devils are lucky to have someone like Jagr around as they continue to try and rebuild their team for the future. If they get the same sort of production next year as they got from Jagr last year, they are definitely going to be right back onto the steps of the playoffs with, perhaps, a chance to walk right through the doorway.