Reality has settled in: Jaromir Jagr isn't going on an NHL farewell tour. After a failed run with the Calgary Flames that ended with him on waivers, everybody's favorite mullet-sporting veteran has returned to his native Czech Republic. It has everyone wondering if Grandfather Time finally caught up with the record-setting 45-year-old. It also has us wondering if we'll ever get to see him again stateside. If this really is the end, will we ever see another player like him? Heck, is it even possible for there to be another Jagr? Given the combination of his accomplishments, longevity and personality, it seems very unlikely. We have to take look at some of his biggest achievements and wonder if duplicating his myth-like successes is even possible. For example: Will there ever be another triple gold winner from a European country? Jagr gained membership status in that club in 2005 when he won the Ice Hockey World Championship with the Czech Republic after already claiming Olympic gold in the 1998 Olympics and hoisting back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and '92. The feat has been reached in recent years by Canadian players, including Jonathan Toews, Sidney Crosby and Corey Perry — and there are plenty of Canadians who are just one championship away from entering this coveted group. But no other player from Europe is in this club, and we may never see another player from outside Canada or the U.S. enter the mix. The closest is Evgeni Malkin, who only needs an Olympic gold to join this exclusive group, but he would need the NHL to actually participate in the 2022 Winter Games for a realistic chance of that happening. With his swagger on the ice, the 31-year-old Russian may look like the next generation's Jagr, and the fact he's donned the black and yellow of the Penguins just like Jagr makes the comparison intriguing. Of course, a big part of Jagr's intrigue is how much he thrived in his golden years, and there's no telling if Malkin will have the staying power of Jagr. And while his game is flashy and impressive much in the way Jagr's was, Malkin has a long way to go to put up the sustained numbers Jagr did. Then there is the fact that, as favorably as their games may stack up, there are few comparisons on their paths. Jagr is more decorated with awards and, after a long 11-year stint in Pittsburgh, became an NHL vagabond, moving from city to city. He was considered an overpriced, aging bust during his two-plus seasons with the Washington Capitals, and his time as a New York Ranger saw a revival that quickly turned into diminishing returns. From there, he took a hiatus from the NHL, returning to his native country, only to come back to the league with the Philadelphia Flyers as mentor to Philly's captain Claude Giroux and a highly productive veteran presence. He's had stops in Dallas, Boston, New Jersey, Florida and Calgary since, earning an All-Star nod as recently as the 2015-16 season with the Panthers, and played all 82 games just one year ago. It's hard to believe Malkin, who has spent all his 12 NHL years in a Penguins sweater, would follow such a career arc from here on out — in fact, it's hard to believe anyone will.
There will never be another Jaromir Jagr
Yardbarker | Feb 1