Hall of famer thinks offensive stars share multiple characteristics
Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane has said he used to watch in amazement as Jaromir Jagrdominated the NHL with his size, stick work and patience. Jagr, a right wing with the Florida Panthers, has mentioned how he loves to watch Kane because of how intelligently he attacks opponents with his hands, skill and, yes, patience.
Brett Hull, the next player Jagr should pass on the NHL all-time goal scoring list — Jagr has 737 goals, four shy of Hull’s 741 — said he wonders why more people haven’t drawn a comparison between Jagr and Kane because they are more alike than they may seem.
Jagr, 43, is 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, and will be the captain for the Atlantic Division in the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Sunday. Kane, 27, is 5-11 and 177 pounds, and will be the Central Division captain at the All-Star Game.
Hull told NHL.com that size doesn’t matter in his comparison because Jagr and Kane attack defenses the same way.
“Jagr is so smart and he uses his body so well that he’s like a different version of Patrick Kane,” Hull said. “I don’t think anyone really looks at him that way, but he controls the puck on the outside by the boards and moves all around on the inside of the offensive zone. He doesn’t do all the fancy stickhandling like Patrick, but he lets the [defensemen] get to him, feels their presence on him, and he still goes wherever he wants. He dictates where the [defense] is going. And as soon as he gets onto the side he wants, he takes the puck, goes to the net and he’s got great skills to finish and make a great play, as he’s done his whole career. There’s not a whole bunch of contact. You see everyone now in today’s game giving the reverse shoulder; Jagr uses his brain to do those things. Kane is also so smart and he uses his body.”
Hull, though, noted a major difference (other than their size) between Jagr and Kane.
He said he can’t take his eyes off Kane when he watches the Blackhawks because of Kane’s dazzling skill. Jagr doesn’t catch his eye as much when he watches the Panthers because he’s been like a sneaky assassin his entire career.
“In some ways I think Jagr is kind of like me when he’s out there; certainly not flashy,” Hull said. “But he does his thing and he does it methodically in the offensive zone, and he gets the job done. You look at Pavel Datsyuk and Kane or the big shot of [Alex] Ovechkin, you want to watch those guys or you can’t stop looking at them. But Jagr does it without really being noticed. That’s the genius of it.”
The other part of Jagr’s game that is unique to him is how he uses his backside to break down defenders. While Kane uses his hands to fuel the remarkable stick skills that help him get around defenders and get to the net, Jagr always has turned his back to them and used his backside to beat them.
“He always did it, and I think he’s perfected it now even more that he’s 43 years old,” Hull said. “The game has completely changed and it shows you how good he is that he can still continue to play and do that. Obviously he doesn’t play the exact same way he did because it was a lot of fun in those Pittsburgh days when he was playing with Mario [Lemieux]. Those guys were so skilled and fun to watch. But in today’s game he does the exact same thing. Maybe not quite as effective because the game is different. But he is the same player in a different era. It’s fun to see. Tip your hat to a guy with his longevity and the ability to continue doing what he’s doing.”
That Jagr still is doing it means he likely will catch Hull on the NHL all-time goal scoring list; after Hull comes Gordie Howe (801) and the all-time leader Wayne Gretzky (894).
Hull scored his 741 goals in 1,269 games. Jagr has 737 in 1,596 NHL games.
“It’s obviously not a record, but you do things well and there are people with extraordinary talent that are going to pass you one day,” Hull said. “I would think at this point with the way the game is played, it’ll be Jagr and Ovi (503 goals in 805 games), and I’ll probably end up fifth. It’s a pretty good group of guys to be lumped with, though.”