It was the last day of school for the Florida Panthers. As his teammates were cleaning out their lockers, signing yearbooks, and doing exit interviews, Jaromir Jagr was signing something else – a new contract.
A round of Ensures for everyone as the NHL’s favorite old-guy will be returning to South Florida for another season. Per TSN, the one-year contract is worth $3.5-million.
Jagr was traded to Florida mid-season from New Jersey. His impact was felt instantly. Not just on the young Panthers group, but by Jagr himself. From the Miami-Herald:
“First off, I’m glad I got traded here. I didn’t really know how good this team is,” Jagr said at BB&T Center … “I had a chance to play the last 20 games here … a lot of people thought I was done. Those young guys gave me extra energy, extra life. I’m glad to be coming back next year.”
Skating with Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau, Jagr had 18-points in those 20 games.
If you needed the reminder at how incredible Jagr’s 21-year NHL career has been, the Panthers published just some of his all-time stats:
Jagr, 43, ranks first among active National Hockey League leaders in points (1,802), games played (1,550), assists (1,080), goals (722), plus/minus (+291) and power play goals (204). Among all-time NHL leaders, he ranks first in game-winning goals (129), fourth in points, fifth in goals, sixth in assists and 11th in games played.
Imagine where he’d be if he didn’t leave the NHL for a couple years.
The team missed the playoffs by 7-points. The young group was in the hunt until the end of the season when goaltending injuries derailed their race. This is remarkable considering how little people thought of the Panthers when season began. The general consensus was they’d be better with Roberto Luongo, but not good enough just yet. So much for that idea. If Jagr can continue to contribute like he has, and Lu stays healthy, consider the Cats a playoff bound team next season.
The best part about this signing is Jagr’s commitment to growing the awareness of Panthers hockey in South Florida.
… Jagr is already a fan favourite, in a market where hockey is still trying to grow. “Let’s change it,” Jagr said. “People can see it. It’s a different team. It’s a different Florida Panthers.”
“This team’s got a big future,” Jagr said. “Hopefully I can be part of it.”