He’s as good or better than half the players in his sport, but here it is only days before the start of training camp, and teams have avoided him like rabies.
Not because of divisive political beliefs, mind you. Because of his birth certificate of all things.
But you know all about Jaromir Jagr, don’t you?
OK, you probably don’t know about him. He’s just a hockey player. There will be no boycotts on his behalf any time soon.
At the same time, Jagr is no jamoke. He’s a medical miracle, among the greatest hockey players who ever laced up skates. Only Wayne Gretzky amassed more points in NHL history. He’s a two-time Stanley Cup champion. He also has some of the best hair ev-er.
Oh, and Jagr is 45 years young. See, that’s a problem.
With a few exceptions — more on that later — teams value speed and young legs more than ever. Yet it also takes will, savvy and attitude to achieve team success, all of which Jagr still has after 23 seasons.
Fact is, Jagr can still play the game at a reasonably high level on a fairly consistent basis. Last season he totaled 14 goals and 32 assists despite little support around him. Know how many Sharks forwards had more points? Exactly three. Even metrics show that, when No. 68 was on the ice, the lame-butt Florida Panthers were that much better for it.
Still, crickets …
“I don’t think I am so bad that I couldn’t play there,” Jagr said of the Panthers, who reneged on their promise of a contract offer.
Yeah, Jagr even has a sense or humor.
If Jagr is chased out of North America for no good reason, we still won’t hear the last of him. He’s prepared to bring his stick and smile back to Russia, play the game he loves ’til he drops and leave the stench behind.
REST OF THE STORY: Balls can name at least one place where Jagr could fit in quite well.
Waitin’ on you, Silly Valley.
As we know, Sharks boss Doug Wilson has neither the time nor the patience for young prospects and rebuilds. As least publicly, he believes that his team is a legit Stanley Cup contender. In that case, the GM should be on the phone with Jagr’s agent as soon as possible if not earlier.
Last season, the Sharks ranked a pathetic 25th on power play. That’s an area in which Jagr still excels. His eight goals with the manpower advantage would have ranked behind only Logan Couture (11) on the team.
Hey, who knows? Jagr’s work ethic might rub off on a few teammates, and heaven knows that Team Teal could use more of that.
In effect, Jagr would take the spot vacated by 37-year-old Patrick Marleau when he walked out the free agent door this summer. While Jagr admittedly no longer can carry a team, he still can be effective for 8-to-10 minutes at equal strength and another two to three on the PP unit on a regular basis.
An even older guy replaces an old guy. Would that be Sharky or what?
What’s more, the front office has money to spend under the salary cap. Jagr wants to be treated fairly, of course, but he has no intentions to break the bank, either.
If 38-year-old Joe Thornton and his seven goals are worth $8 million for one year, then wouldn’t Jagr be a steal for about half as much?
WATT’S UP: No sooner was Houston under water than Texans megastar J.J. Watt got off his duff and started an online fundraiser to assist Hurricane Harvey victims. He donated the first 100,000 bucks.
When donations exceeded $10 million this week, more than 50 times the original $200,000 goal, Watt tweeted, “Absolutely incredible. The most difficult times bring out the best in humanity.”
Wait, there’s more.
Watt has taken an active role to ensure that supplies are shipped to those who need them most, and even loaded up several trucks himself.
Now that’s how a professional athlete makes a difference, girls and boys.
JUST SAYIN’: Football would be a lot more fun if the New England Patriots played in the Southeastern Conference and Alabama was in the NFL …
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and his family will host a podcast this season. And if his team loses to Ohio State again, boy, will that ever make for some fun dead air …
LeBron James believes Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is damaged goods and has asked the Boston Celtics to throw in another draft pick in the Kyrie Irving trade …
The Warriors’ Kevin Durant may be the reigning NBA Finals Most Valuable Player, but there can be no doubt that James still owns the league.
WHERE HAVE YOU GONE … Ian Clark?
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