In one season, Jaromir Jagr left his mark on Flyers

In one season, Jaromir Jagr left his mark on Flyers

April 23, 2013, 10:00 am
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They haven’t seen each other on NHL ice since last May 8, when the Devils closed them out in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at Wells Fargo Center.
 
Some of them still can’t believe he’s not a Flyer.
 
From orange ‘n black to Dallas Stars green to Bruins black ‘n gold.
 
It’s been an odd journey for Jaromir Jagr, a player who packed quite a punch in just one year of active duty as a Flyer.
 
Here today, gone tomorrow, now back again as the Boston Bruins make their final visit to Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday night.
 
“I’m not too sure why it happened and he went to Dallas,” Flyers captain Claude Giroux said. “He liked it here and the guys liked him, but I didn’t know if he would come back.”
 
Last winter, Jagr, who seemed such a good “fit” here swore that personal happiness was more important than money in re-signing.
 
Yet when push came to shove, money won out as Dallas offered him $4.5 million on a one-year deal, which was about $1.5 million more than the Flyers were willing to pay.
 
The Flyers learned an expensive lesson this season. That was money well worth investing, because what Jagr brought to this team was never replaced at any point since last July.
 
Wonder if the Flyers could have used his 19 goals and 54 points? Or his leadership presence in the dressing room?
 
Jagr’s intangible value to the development of  young players such as Giroux, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and especially Jakub Voracek, was greatly underestimated by Flyers management.
 
“For us, it was like playing with a legend,” Danny Briere said. “I feel fortunate I was able to say I played with Jaromir Jagr for one year in my career. That is a pretty cool thing to say when you look at everything he has accomplished.
 
“His name being on top of the scoring list almost everywhere. It was an honor to play with him. You also understand why he is the top hockey player who ever played the game. The way he prepares, handles himself. The way he works out. It’s pretty impressive.”
 
Jagr was – and remains - the only Flyer to have his own set of keys to Skate Zone. He would return to the facility late at night to work out on his own.
 
His agent Petr Svoboda agrees somewhat, that Jagr likely over-trained last season at age 40, and it made him a little more vulnerable to groin injuries. But you could not convince Jagr of that.
 
“He was important for me and helped me a lot,” said Giroux, who broke out last season and came into his own as a player. “This summer, too in Czech, he was just such a great guy.
 
“I never saw anybody with a work ethic like that on or off the ice. It was work all the time. When you see a guy like that, a Hall of Famer, just the way he treats his audience, he works so hard to get where he has been.”
 
So tonight, the Flyers see him and wish him well, because Jagr is headed to the postseason while the Flyers are not.
 
They’ll reminisce a bit, then it’s all business on the ice.
 
“He was a real good influence in our room,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “Our team is still young, but it was younger last year. He set a real good example. He was a nice addition and a good piece for us.”
 
A piece of history, gone but certainly not without having made an impression.