Every time he was asked about the future, Jaromir Jagr pointed to one thing. He wouldn’t talk about next season or how he really feels physically until the real test — the playoffs. After all, that’s what he missed most in his three-year hiatus from the NHL.
Back in November it was clear that the Flyers needed him. He has been the veteran everyone has looked to on a team filled with rookies.
“It’s a great thing to be part of the same team that he is,” said Jake Voracek, who shares the hometown of Kladno in the Czech Republic with Jagr and grew up idolizing him. “You see what he does before the game, after the game, all year and it’s been fantastic.”
The work that Jagr puts in off the ice is unprecedented. GM Paul Holmgren said he had no idea how intense the regiment was until Jagr had been here for a month. The Flyers even gave him the keys to the practice facility, so a restless Jagr could come skate in the middle of the night.
“It’s always been like this,” Jagr said. “I don’t think anybody can play without practice. For me, I love to enjoy the game. I love to smile during the game. [Working off ice] is the only thing you can do to be in better shape than everybody else.”
Jagr may not wear a ‘C’ or ‘A’ on his jersey, but the Flyers consider him part of the leadership team. In fact, he may be the most important player in the room.
“Jaromir’s influence over the young players has been steadfast and valued and welcomed at this point in the season,” Peter Laviolette said.
Perhaps the play that showed it most was in Game 3 when Jagr brushed off Pascal Dupuis with one hand and used the other to make a one-handed pass to Claude Giroux for a goal. Yeah, Jaromir Jagr is relishing the playoffs.
“Don’t forget, I’m 240 [pounds],” he chuckled. “Sometimes I have to use my power. I’m not very quick, but I still think I’m pretty strong.”