Better With Popcorn

Time is ticking: Enjoy Jaromir Jagr while you can

As the puck went through the net with 44 seconds left in overtime, Jaromir Jagr's right glove came off for his patented salute. It's been his trademark since his current teammates were skating around peewee hockey rinks.‬

The old man at the end of his career helped point out the unifying factor among every individual in the NHL.

While there are discrepancies in pay grade, talent level and strategic philosophy, the bond that every player shares is the fact that some day, inevitably, the game will come to pass them by.

For some, that day will come sooner than it will for others.

In the case of Philadelphia Flyers 40-year old forward, that day is just over the horizon.

That’s not to say that he will be retiring after this season, or even in the season after that, but what it means is that the clock is ticking for the aging vet.

Of course, when looking at his last two games, it seems like that should be the furthest thought from any one’s mind.

After only scoring a single goal since the start of the New Year, Jagr has scored three goals in his last two games, which included the game-winner in Tuesday night’s overtime win over the Winnipeg Jets.

However, it is a mistake to allow that to cloud your judgment.

While those two games are a wonderful example of the benefits that he brings, the unfortunate reality of the situation is that he hasn’t been close to that form since the calendar flipped over to 2012.

Whether it’s been nagging lower body injuries or him just flat out not playing well, the last couple of weeks have not been the best for Jagr.

In terms of the Flyers, it’s an unsettling development.

It’s been a steady decline in performance that has seen him miss passing windows, make poor decisions with the puck and fail to capitalize on scenarios he pounced on earlier in the season.

It’s even forced head coach Peter Laviolette to take him off the first line pairing with Claude Giroux.

Obviously everyone wanted the tandem of Giroux and Jagr to continue to flourish all the way to a Stanley Cup parade down Broad Street, but unfortunately that too seems to have come to pass.

However, this isn’t meant to be a pessimistic view of the aging superstar. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.

For Flyers fans, Jagr had long been thought of as the villain.

Playing for teams like the New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals, Jagr has always had the persona of public enemy number one in Philadelphia.

Now, all of that has changed.

Revered as the wily vet, he is now an endeared member of this team. When walking around Wells Fargo Center, the amount of jerseys, sherseys and t-shirts are sign enough of that.

What is important to remember is that this time may only last for the remainder of the season; it’s important that the fans cherish every moment they have left while watching number 68.

While he may not be what he once was earlier in his career, the fact remains the same that Jagr is without a doubt one of the greatest players ever to play in the NHL. Philadelphia fans now have the previledge of saying that they had a chance to watch him play on a nightly basis.

With his age slowly creeping closer as each day passes, it won’t be long before Jagr’s time runs out.

However, that doesn’t mean he can’t add a few more memorable moments in the process.


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John Russo's picture

Absolutely brilliant piece. I thought him coming back for another season was a sure thing with his hot start. But the injuries have been a problem for him and for the confidence that the Flyers are willing to give Jagr good money again for another year where he may play no more than 60-65 games.