Jaromir Jagr, like so many of us, is incredibly talented and unemployed. People like us, the supremely gifted, are left to wonder how we reached this point in our lives. We look at the landscape and fight to understand how others are plying their trade for fair wages while we are left to refresh our email inboxes in the hopes the Colorado Avalanche have made us a job offer. OK, perhaps "us" is a stretch (Narrator: It is.) but it's criminal that Jagr has yet to sign a deal for the 2017-18 season when inferior or nearly identical players are already under contract. There are two obvious reasons for this situation—stupidity and ageism. Stupidity and Zac Rinaldo are synonymous, but that's not the stupidity at play here. The stupidity is reflected in all 31 general managers but has manifested itself specifically in the form of Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka signing Rinaldo to a one-year, $700,000 contract on the first day of free agency, because if you don't lock up a guy with 27 points and four suspensions in 275 career games immediately, you're in danger of losing him to some of our nation's finest prison leagues. Yes, this is comparing delicious apples (Jagr) with oranges found at the bottom of a dumpster the homeless use for a toilet (Rinaldo), but the fact remains that an NHL team considers Rinaldo useful while every NHL team appears to consider Jagr useless. It's an endemic issue in the NHL, teams believing toughness in the form of hockey players who are bad at hockey are somehow more helpful than hockey players who are good primarily at the scoring part of hockey and not much else. It's how guys like Shawn Thornton wind up with two-year deals and guys like Nik Zherdev wind up playing overseas for most of their careers. Others that signed UFA contracts this summer include: Brandon Bollig, Ondrej Pavelec, Chris Thorburn, and Dan Girardi (!). These are objectively bad players and have proven for quite some time that whatever talent they once possessed has long since left their bodies. But these are all bargain deals (except for Girardi) for amounts that would never be enough to land Jagr, so it's not as though the Blues were deciding between Thorburn and Jagr and said, "We'd rather the guy with three goals and one assist in 64 games last year." And perhaps you're reading this and saying, "How convenient that the guy who was lumping himself in with Jagr as 'talented' at the beginning of this story has yet to mention the fact that Jagr is older than most NHL arenas and is coming off a bad season." That's fair. Let's talk about that. Jagr is 45 years old and will turn 46 during the upcoming season. That is old. The average male life expectancy is 76 years so Jagr is almost as close to dying of old age as he is to his rookie season. There's nothing wrong with seeing his production drop to 10 goals and 46 points a season ago and wondering if his 2017-18 will be a disaster. We wonder this about players in their late-30s so there's nothing inherently bad with concerns about a guy that's closer to 50 than 40.
Jaromir Jagr Is a Victim of Ageism and Stupidity
Vice Sports | Aug 18