The 1990’s started off with a Bang as far as first round draft picks for the Pittsburgh Penguins. In 1990, the Pens would draft Jaromir Jagr. Clearly one of the most talented players that ever graced the ice in Pittsburgh, but also the NHL. A sure fire Hall of Famer, a holder of many NHL records, and did we mention he is still going. Just not for the Pens.
His scoring is legend so here are some highlights of his career. In 1346 games, he has 1653 points. He has 665 career regular season goals and he added another 78 goals in 180 playoff games. He is also the all Time Point leader in the NHL for European Born/Trained players. He has 2 Stanley Cups, both of those came with the Pens. He is a Gold Medal winner for his home country of the Czech Republic in 1998 at Nagano. He is a 5 time Art Ross Trophy Winner, 3 time winner of the Lester B Pearson Award, he won a Hart Trophy and was 7 time All Star.
Jagr played in Pittsburgh for 11 seasons with and without Mario. During that same time, Mario Lemieux was also going strong, though the early to mid 90’s is when Mario started to have health issues and Jagr stepped up to become the teams go to player. His best season as a Penguin was his 1995-1996 season where he scored 149 points, 62 of those were goals. It was huge season for points when you consider this was at the peak of the clutching and grabbing that used to plague the NHL on a nightly basis.
The Penguins would have to let him go in 2001 for financial reasons as they struggled through a very rough and rocky period as Howard Baldwin, then owner of the Pens put the team in the hole so far the team was almost lost. Shortly after that, Mario took the situation by the horns, bought the team and saved the franchise. Jagr moved on to the Capitals for 3 years, then the Rangers for 4. He went back to play in Russia for a couple of seasons then came back to the States where he played this last year for the Flyers. All of these teams were and are some of the Penguins Arch Rivals. Wonder if that was planned? I would say yes.
Jaromir was a great player, though he will always be known for leaving the franchise when he was needed most. He will also be known for possibly coming back. Last season, he was making amends with Mario then at the last minute he chose to go to the Flyers for More money. He was a moody person and player with an affinity to gamble in the Casinos and get himself into trouble. That said, his talent most times far out weighed the issues he would cause and that is what made him one of the Greatest Players in Penguins History, and one of the Greatest in NHL History.