He’s 41-years old, but he doesn’t care.
When the Dallas Stars brought in veteran Jaromir Jagr during free agency, many believed he would just be a veteran presence and that’s it. You know, maybe 25-30 points and a locker room, vocal leader.
But Jagr has meant much, much more to the Stars organization and their fans.
Sure, through 13 games, he’s off to a solid start statistically, posting four goals and seven assists. But what he has brought to this hockey club cannot be found in the box score. Just like he did last season with the Philadelphia Flyers, Jagr is making players around him better. During the 2011-12 season, the league saw Claude Giroux absolutely emerge into one of the premiere talents in this league, not to mention winger Scott Hartnell set a career-high in goals scored (37). With Dallas, Jagr has a chance to help another rising star emerge.
23-year old Jamie Benn has finally returned to the Stars lineup after going through contract disputes. He has been playing on the team’s top line with Jagr and it has been wonderful. In just nine games played, Benn has posted four goals and five assists. Of course, Benn is easily talented enough to produce without the presence of Jagr, but it sure can’t hurt. Expect Benn to get better and better rapidly, just as long as Jagr is in the locker room with him.
Obviously, Jagr and the Stars are looking to break out of the mediocre stage, but the future hall of famer is bringing fun into the locker room as well.
“I’m glad I’m on this team,” Jagr said on Tuesday night. “I think we’ve got so many great guys. We have so much fun. It always helps when you’re winning. The goals, I knew it was going to come. The fun and the team battling together, that’s the whole key. That’s when I have fun the most.”
These younger guys like Benn and Loui Eriksson already have a ton of upside. But having the privilege of working with a grizzled veteran such as Jagr will only help them grow as players in this league.
Oh by the way, with the Flyers struggling to find the back of the net at a consistent rate, I wonder if they miss Jagr …