Jaromír Jágr (born February 15, 1972) is a Czech professional ice hockey right winger who plays for the Philadelphia Flyers of the National Hockey League (NHL). Jágr formerly played with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, and New York Rangers, serving as captain of the Penguins and the Rangers.
Jágr was the fifth overall selection in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft. He won two consecutive Stanley Cups in the 1991 and 1992 seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He has won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading point scorer five times, received the Lester B. Pearson Award as voted by the NHL Players’ Association three times, and won a Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. He has been named to seven NHL First All-Star Teams. Jágr is currently in the top 15 NHL players in career goals, assists and points (as of the end of the 2010–11 NHL season), and is the all-time leader among European trained players in all three categories, as well as the leading point scorer among active NHL players. Jágr was the Czech Republic‘s flag bearer for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics.
He is one of a small group of hockey players to have won the Stanley Cup (1991, 1992), the Ice Hockey World Championships (2005, 2010), and the Olympic gold medal in ice hockey (1998). This is known as the Triple Gold Club, and Jagr is one of only two Czech players (the other being Jiří Šlégr) in the Triple Gold club, the 15th player to complete it out of 25 total, as of June 2010.
Jágr began skating at the age of three, and he immediately showed exceptional abilities. At the age of 16, he was playing at the highest level of competition in Czechoslovakia for HC Kladno.
Jágr was the first Czechoslovak player to be drafted by the NHL without first having to defect to the West; his selection in the NHL draft came as the Iron Curtain was falling. Because of this, after Jágr was taken by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the fifth overall pick in the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, he was able to come immediately to North America from Czechoslovakia. He was a supporting player with the powerhouse Penguins that won back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. He was one of the youngest players in NHL history, at 20 years of age, to score a goal in the Stanley Cup finals.
Before he had a clean grasp on the English language, he could be heard reading the daily weather forecast on Pittsburgh radio station WDVE in his broken, thickly accented English. He and teammate (and fellow countryman) Jiří Hrdina were promoted as the “Czechmates”, a play on the term “checkmate” from chess. He would also play Scrabble in an attempt to increase his English vocabulary. Some Penguins fans realized that the letters in his first name could be scrambled to form the anagram “Mario Jr.”, a reference to teammate Mario Lemieux.
In the 1994–95 NHL season Jágr won his first Art Ross Trophy as the scoring champion of the NHL. He tied Eric Lindros with 70 points but won based on his 32 goals to Lindros’ 29. The next year, Jágr set a record for most points, 149, by a European-born player. Both his 62 goals and 87 assists from that season still stand as career-highs. His 1995–96 totals for assists and points stand as the records for right-wingers in those categories. After the 1997–98 season, Ron Francis signed with the Carolina Hurricanes, leaving Jágr the Penguins’ captaincy. From 1997–98 to 2000–01, Jágr would win four straight NHL scoring titles. In 1999, Jágr would win the Hart Memorial Trophy, as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player as well as the Lester B. Pearson Award. In 1998, he led the Czech Republic’s team to a gold medal at the Nagano Olympics.
On December 30, 1999 Jagr scored 3 goals and 4 assists for a career high 7 point night against the New York Islanders. He would match this feat on January 11, 2003 by once again scoring 3 goals and adding 4 assists for a total of 7 points in a game against the Florida Panthers while playing for Washington.
In 2000–01, Jágr was struggling to find his scoring touch and faced criticisms about his relationship with coach Ivan Hlinka. With the return of Mario Lemieux from retirement, the Penguins had two superstars but friction developed between the two; Jágr held the captaincy but many fans regarded Lemieux as the talisman of the team. Also, the struggling, small-market Penguins could, with Lemieux back, no longer hope to afford Jágr’s massive salary. Thus on July 11, 2001, they traded him (along with František Kučera) to the Washington Capitals for Kris Beech, Michal Sivek and Ross Lupaschuk.
In 806 games in Pittsburgh, Jágr became only the second Penguins player, after Lemieux, to score 1,000 points in a Penguins sweater. Jágr currently sits second behind Lemieux in all offensive categories in franchise history, except points per game, where he is third (behind Sidney Crosby and Lemieux).
Later that year the Capitals signed Jágr to the largest contract ever in NHL history (at that time)—$77 million over 7 years at an average salary of $11 million per year, with an option for an eighth year. However, Jágr did not live up to expectations, as the Capitals failed to defend their division title and missed the playoffs in 2002. Even when the Capitals reunited him with linemate Robert Lang during summer 2002, Jágr failed to finish among the league’s top scorers or make the postseason All-Star Team during his time with the Capitals. In 2002–03 Washington managed to finish 6th overall in the Eastern Conference, but lost to the upstart Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the playoffs despite winning the first two games.
This prompted the Caps to unload much of their high-priced talent in order to save money—not just a cost-cutting spree, but also an acknowledgement that their attempt to build a contender with high-priced veteran talent had failed. Disgruntled, the Washington ownership spent much of 2003 trying to trade Jágr, but a year before a new Collective Bargaining Agreement was to be signed, few teams were willing to risk $11 million on Jágr.
On January 23, 2004, he was traded to the New York Rangers for Anson Carter and an agreement that Washington would pay approximately four million dollars per year of Jágr’s salary. Jágr also agreed to defer (with interest) $1 million per year for the remainder of his contract to allow the trade to go ahead.
New York Rangers
However, due to the new collective bargaining agreement signed before the start of the 2005–06 season, Jágr’s salary was subsequently reduced to $7.8 million, the maximum allowed under the terms of the new salary cap.
Jaromír led the Czech Republic to gold at the 2005 World Hockey Championships in Austria; and was elected a tournament all-star in the process. He also became a member of hockey’s prestigious Triple Gold Club, players who have won a Stanley Cup, a World Hockey Championship, and an Olympic gold medal.
Prior to the 2005–06 season, the Rangers had missed the playoffs for seven consecutive seasons. Following the fire sale of the high-priced underachieving veterans that made up the team’s roster, as well as the retirement of long-time captain Mark Messier, many experts picked the Rangers to be the worst team in the NHL. Jágr disagreed and promised the team would surprise a lot of people and make the Stanley Cup playoffs. He started strong during the beginning of the 2005 season and the return from the lockout of the NHL. He became only the fourth player in NHL history to score 10 or more goals in less than 10 games at the start of a season. His return to dominance helped the Rangers return to the Stanley Cup playoffs, but injuries to Jágr and others contributed to a quick Ranger exit in a first round sweep of the Broadway Blueshirts by the archnemesis New Jersey Devils.
Jágr scored his 1,400th point on a power play goal against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 2, 2006, pushing him past Jari Kurri into second place all-time among European-born players. He later passed Stan Mikita to become the all-time leader.
On March 18, 2006, against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Jágr became only the sixth Rangers player in team history to break the 100-point barrier, and became the only Ranger right winger to score 100 points in a season.
On March 27, 2006, against the Buffalo Sabres, Jágr had a goal and an assist, which tied both the Rangers’ single-season goal record of 52 (Adam Graves, 1993–94) and the Rangers’ single season points record of 109 (Jean Ratelle, 1971–72). Two nights later, on March 29, 2006, Jágr passed Ratelle when he assisted on Petr Průcha‘s first-period goal against the New York Islanders‘ Rick DiPietro. 9 days later, on April 8, against the Boston Bruins, Jágr scored his league-leading 53rd goal of the season, breaking the Rangers’ single-season goals record.
After leading the league in points and goals for most of 2005–06, Jágr was passed by the San Jose Sharks‘ duo of Joe Thornton (125 points) and Jonathan Cheechoo (56 goals), losing both the Art Ross and Maurice Richard trophies in the final week of the season. Jágr finished with 123 points, 54 goals, and 24 power-play goals, second in the league in all three categories. He finished third in the league in both assists, with 69, and +/-, at +34. Despite being inched out by Thornton for the Art Ross Trophy and Hart Trophy (league MVP), Jágr won his third Lester B. Pearson Award as the league’s outstanding player. However, just as in Washington, playoff success was not to be for Jágr, whose Rangers were swept four games to none by the New Jersey Devils. Jágr suffered a dislocated shoulder in the third period of the first game of the series, which kept him from playing at his top form for the rest of the series. Jágr had surgery on the shoulder after the Rangers were eliminated from the playoffs.
On October 5, 2006, before the first game of the 2006–07 NHL season against the Washington Capitals, Jágr was named as the 24th captain in the history of the New York Rangers, replacing Mark Messier, who retired before the 2005–06 season. Jágr then proceeded to score a goal on his very first shift in the game, just under 30 seconds into the new season.
On November 19, 2006, he scored his 600th career NHL goal on Tampa Bay goalie Johan Holmqvist, making him the 16th player in NHL history to do so. Power play linemate Brendan Shanahan had scored his 600th goal almost three weeks earlier, making them the first teammates in NHL history to score their 600th goal in the same season.
On February 10, 2007, against the Washington Capitals, Jágr earned an assist on a goal by Michal Rozsíval to record his 1,500th career point. He is only the 12th NHLer to reach this mark. He is the fourth fastest player to score his 1,500th point after Marcel Dionne, Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky.
On April 5, 2007, against the Montreal Canadiens, Jágr scored his 30th goal of the 2006–07 NHL season to record 15 consecutive seasons of 30 or more goals. This tied the NHL record of consecutive 30-goal seasons held by Mike Gartner.
After a regular season slowed by a weak shoulder, he led the New York Rangers to a sweep of the Atlanta Thrashers in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The Rangers would fall to the Buffalo Sabres in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
On November 14, 2007, against the New Jersey Devils, Jágr scored his 4th goal of the 2007–08 NHL season at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, making him the only player to score a goal in 53 different NHL arenas.
On July 3, 2008, Jágr, now a free agent for the first time in his career, was informed by Rangers GM Glen Sather that the club was moving on without him. Sather admitted that the two sides never engaged in detailed negotiations for a new contract, and that after many months of speculation, Jágr was “seriously considering” going to Russia to finish his career, despite offers from other NHL teams. A day later, these reports came true, when Jágr agreed to a two-year deal with Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League; the deal was reported to pay Jágr the equivalent US$5 million annually. Jágr was named Avangard’s captain on January 30, 2009.
Jágr was sitting next to Alexei Cherepanov when Cherepanov, a first-round pick of the Rangers, died. They were discussing the past shift when Cherepanov collapsed right into Jágr on the bench at the Ice Hockey Center 2004 arena.
In April 2009, Jágr publicly stated an interest in returning to the NHL, stating that he really just needed a break from the pressures of an 82 game NHL schedule. Jágr, who claimed to have lost 15 pounds since his last NHL season, and who was “practicing a lot harder than [he] ever did in [his] life” stated he would be interested in joining the Edmonton Oilers because of the interest they showed in July 2008. However, following the expiration of his original contract with Avangard, Jagr re-signed with Avangard for the 2010-11 KHL season.
Although he has repeatedly denied that he has a gambling problem, he admitted in 2003 that he settled debts totaling US$950,000 with two internet gambling sites between 1998 and 2002. The first of these incidents centered on Belize-based website CaribSports and its owner, William Caesar, to which Jágr owed US$500,000. Sports Illustrated reported that Jágr agreed to make monthly payments to Caesar to settle the debt, and Caesar leaked the story to the press when Jágr stopped making payments. In 2003, the Internal Revenue Service filed a US$3.27 million lien against him for unpaid taxes for the 2001 tax year. Only a few months before, Jágr had settled a US$350,000 claim for taxes dating to 1999. In the summer of 2006, Jágr sued his former accountant over a tax form that was supposed to have been filed in 2003, claiming that the form would have saved him $6 million had it been filed in a timely fashion.
Jágr wears the number 68, which he has worn through his entire career, in honor of the Prague Spring rebellion that occurred in Czechoslovakia in 1968, also the year in which his grandfather died while in prison.
Jágr has been a long time supporter of the liberal conservative Civic Democratic Party, stating in 2004 that he “had always” voted for the party. In previous election he has appeared at the party’s billboards and was among its generous sponsors.
On May 26, 2010, he announced he was backing the Civic Democrats and its leader Petr Nečas. At the press conference he said: “I realise that there will be elections in two to three days. I would like their outcome to be good.”
He also urged the party not to forget about sports when distributing money. “We all know what would happen if the young did not practice any sport. If children practice some sport, they do not have time for other things such as alcohol.”
- Stanley Cup Winner – 1991, 1992 (Pittsburgh)
- Hart Trophy (MVP) – 1999
- Art Ross Trophy (Leading point scorer) – 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001
- Lester B. Pearson Award (Players’ MVP) – 1999, 2000, 2006
- NHL First Team All-Star – 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2006
- NHL Second Team All-Star – 1997
- NHL All-Rookie Team – 1991
- Flagbearer for the Czechia Olympic Team Flagbearer for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
- Olympic gold medal winner for the Czech Republic in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano
- Olympic bronze medal for the Czech Republic in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin
- IIHF World Champion – 2005, 2010
- IIHF European Club Champion – 2005
- IOC “Sport, inspiring young people” Trophy – 2011
- Golden Stick Award (1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011) holder, which is the highest trophy an ice hockey player can get in the Czech Republic. When he won his 6th Golden Stick in 2005, he surpassed Dominik Hašek for the most such awards in Czech and Czechoslovak history; and in 2011, he won his 10th.
- Czech Sportsman of the Year 2005, a trophy awarded by journalists in the Czech Republic
- IIHF World Championship All-Star Team – 2004, 2005 and 2011
- In 1998 he was ranked number 37 on The Hockey News‘ list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players. This made him the highest-ranked player to have been trained outside Canada. Jagr, who was only 26 at the time, was additionally the second-youngest player on the list, older only than 25-year-old, No. 54-ranked Eric Lindros.
- Most assists by a rookie in Stanley Cup Finals (1991) – 5
- Most regular season points by a right wing (1995–96) – 149
- Most regular season assists by a right wing (1995–96) – 87
- Most regular season points by a European born and trained player (1995–96) – 149
- Most regular season points by a player born outside of Canada (1995–96) – 149
- Most all-time regular season points by a European born and trained player – 1599
- Most all-time regular season goals by a European born and trained player – 646
- Most all-time overtime goals – 15 (Shared with Mats Sundin, Sergei Fedorov and Patrik Eliáš)
- Most consecutive 30-goal seasons (1991–2007) – 15 (Shared with Mike Gartner, including the shortened 1994–95 NHL season, 48 games)
- Most consecutive 70-or-more point seasons (15) (including the shortened 1994–95 NHL season, 48 games)
- Most NHL arenas with a goal scored in – 53
New York Rangers records
- Most regular season goals by a Rangers player (2005–06) – 54
- Most regular season points by a Rangers player (2005–06) – 123
- Most regular season power play goals by a Rangers player (2005–06) – 24
- Most regular season shots on goal by a Rangers player (2005–06) – 368
- Most regular season game-winning goals by a Rangers player (2005–06) – 9 (tied with Mark Messier 1996–97 and Don Murdoch 1980–81)
- Most regular season goals by a Rangers right wing (2005–06) – 54
- Most regular season assists by a Rangers right wing (2005–06) – 69
- Most regular season points by a Rangers right wing (2005–06) – 123
|1994–95||HC Kladno||Czech Rep.||11||8||14||22||10||—||—||—||—||—|
|1994–95||HC Bolzano||Six Nations||5||8||8||16||4||—||—||—||—||—|
|2003–04||New York Rangers||NHL||31||15||14||29||12||—||—||—||—||—|
|2004–05||HC Kladno||Czech Rep.||17||11||17||28||16||—||—||—||—||—|
|2005–06||New York Rangers||NHL||82||54||69||123||72||3||0||1||1||2|
|2006–07||New York Rangers||NHL||82||30||66||96||78||10||5||6||11||12|
|2007–08||New York Rangers||NHL||82||25||46||71||58||10||5||10||15||12|
Jagr during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver
|Men’s ice hockey|
|Bronze||1990 Bern||Ice hockey|
|Gold||2005 Vienna||Ice hockey|
|Gold||2010 Cologne||Ice hockey|
|Bronze||2011 Bratislava||Ice hockey|
|World Junior Championship|
|Bronze||1990 Finland||Ice hockey|
Jágr has represented his country many times, but his international statistics are considerably lower than those he posted in the National Hockey League. In 1994 he and Martin Straka arrived in the middle of the World Championships. The fans’ expectations were high as Jágr was an NHL star, but before they were able to integrate into the team Czechs lost their quarterfinal game and were out of the tournament. Jágr was also hurt in numerous other games.
The 1996 World Cup of Hockey also did not see Jágr at his best. His performance was hampered by the flu and it only underscored the poor play of the whole team. After losing 7-3 to Finland, 3-0 to Sweden and 7-1 even to relatively weak Germany, the team did not qualify for the playoffs.
All this was forgotten in 1998 when the Czech Republic won the gold medal in the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano. It was only the third gold medal for Czech or Czechoslovak sportsmen from the Winter Olympics and it is still fondly remembered.
Jágr did not play in the 1996, 1999, 2000 or 2001 World Championships, where the Czech Republic won the gold medals. He was a member of the team on the 2004 World Championships in Prague, Czech Republic, where the expectations were high, especially after the team won all the games in the group, but they lost in the quarterfinals game.
It was the 2005 World Championships that finally brought a gold medal to Jágr. Although he broke his finger in an early game against Germany, he played with it bandaged during the rest of the tournament and led his team to victory.
More injuries struck Jágr in the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin. He was injured after a hit from Jarkko Ruutu in the game against Finland; he required stitches to his eyebrow. However, the injury was not as serious as it first seemed, and Jágr was able to play in the following games. He was unable to finish the bronze medal game due to muscle injury. Despite this trouble Jágr won the second Olympic medal in his life — bronze this time. Jagr was the flag bearer of the 2010 Winter Olympics for the Czech Republic.
|Sr. International totals||68||28||29||57||32|