Wednesday, November 25, 2015

21 years later, Jagr back in Cup Finals

The last time Jaromir Jagr played in the Stanley Cup Finals, his mullet seemed to be part of the times.

21 years later, Jagr back in Cup Finals

Jaromir Jagr is back in the Stanley Cup finals after missing it for 21 years.(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Jaromir Jagr is back in the Stanley Cup finals after missing it for 21 years.(AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

The last time Jaromir Jagr played in the Stanley Cup Finals, his mullet seemed to be part of the times.

On Wednesday, the former Flyer will return to the Finals for the first time since 1992.

The 21 years between trips to the championship round is the longest in the four major sports. Jim Kaat, a former major-league pitcher, had the second-longest journey: 17 years between World Series stops.

Jagr, 41, and the Boston Bruins will visit Chicago for Game 1 on Wednesday night.

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In his first two seasons in the league, Jagr’s Penguins won the Stanley Cup; the last time was in 1992, when Pittsburgh swept Chicago in four games.

“It is a long time ago, but it was such an important series and such an important playoffs for me because we won,” Jagr told reporters said during Media Day on Tuesday. “I remember almost everything. That first game we were down 4-1 halfway through the game and I thought we didn't have much of a chance. They played very good hockey. They forechecked very well and we were making a lot of mistakes. Then all of a sudden with five minutes left, we were down one and I was lucky I scored a very good-looking goal and then Mario [Lemieux] won it with I think 10 or 15 seconds left. Even though it was the first game, I thought it was a key game."

Boston acquired Jagr before the trade deadline after it lost out on its first choice, Jarome Iginla, who accepted a trade to Pittsburgh.

Jagr’s Bruins swept the Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals.

A physical-fitness addict, Jagr said he was “shocked” when he was asked if he would accept a trade from the Stars.

“I thought I was going to stay in Dallas. It was kind of a last-minute decision from management,” he said. “I don't think many teams knew I was going to be traded. When they told me that morning, first Dallas management met with me before I talked to guys from Boston. They told me I was going to get traded and it was up to me.”

Jagr, who has seven points (but no goals) in 16 playoff games this year, said when he talked to Bruins executives, “I asked like three times, ‘Are you sure you want me?' They said, 'Yeah,' so here I am. ... I just wanted to make sure. I don't want to go somewhere they didn't want you like that. I don't want to be somewhere where I'm kind of useless. I'd rather not be playing."  

In 45 regular-season games this year, Jagr had 16 goals and 35 points. He is still a master at winning board battles and controlling the puck with his wide body, and he helped set up the series-winning overtime goal against the Penguins.

In short, Jagr is playing like he is 41 going on 32.

Or younger.

The future Hall of Famer is playing on the Bruins’ second line, and he enters the Finals with 196 career playoff points, tying him for fifth with Paul Coffey in NHL history.

No, Wayne Gretzky’s career playoff record_a ridiculous 382 points in 208 games _ is not in jeopardy, but the Czech Republic native has clearly left his mark. Interestingly, Jagr is plus-34 in his playoff career, while Gretzky was plus-11.

Follow Sam Carchidi on Twitter @BroadStBull.

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Broad Street Bull is your place for the latest updates, trade rumors, and everything connected to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Sam Carchidi Inquirer Staff Writer
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