Panthers forward is tied with ‘Mr. Hockey’ for third on all-time points list
It’s amazing to think that beside Gordie Howe on the Mount Rushmore of hockey’s most prolific point producers will be an effervescent young chap named Jaromir Jagr.
The 44-year-old Florida Panthers right wing tied “Mr. Hockey” when he scored his 1,850th NHL point on an assist in his 1,611th League game for a share of third place on the NHL all-time list in a 3-2 loss at the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday. Jagr equaled Howe in 156 fewer games.
“You should just have fun and work as hard as you can and those numbers are going to come,” Jagr said. “It’s always fun when you’re playing good. There’s a lot more pressure also. Once you start playing good, the expectation is there, but that’s the way it should be.”
Jagr enters Saturday at the Arizona Coyotes (9 p.m. ET; FS-F, FS-A, NHL.TV) needing 37 points to tie Mark Messier for second place on the points list. Jagr will have to average two points per game over the final 18 regular-season games to catch Messier, who scored 1,887 points in 1,756 games. Wayne Gretzky is the NHL points leader with 2,857 points in 1,487 games.
Howe played 1,687 games with the Detroit Red Wings, and 80 in one season with the Hartford Whalers (1979-80). He played six seasons in the World Hockey Association. Jagr missed three NHL seasons playing in the Kontinental Hockey League from 2008-11.
“Tying Gordie Howe, that’s incredible,” Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog said. “For him to do that despite being out of the League and in Russia for three years, that’s incredible. He’s so big and so strong and so skilled. Congrats to him.”
Jagr is 57 goals from 800, and 58 from equaling Howe (801 goals) for second on the all-time list. Jagr is 28 assists from tying Paul Coffey (1,135 assists) for fifth and four power-play goals from tying Keith Tkachuk (212) for 12th.
Jagr is the League’s all-time leader with 133 game-winning goals. Phil Esposito is second with 118.
“I always said if you want to be a good hockey player, you’ve got to know the history of hockey,” Jagr said. “You’ve got to appreciate those guys who were stars before you came in the League. I had a chance to meet almost everybody in the top 10 (in scoring), and I respect them so much.
“Some guys I played [with], some guys I played against a lot. Some guys I just met or watched them from the highlights, like Gordie or Phil Esposito. Those guys I didn’t have a chance to play against, but I watched them, and you’ve got to respect those guys and you’ve got to know the history to be a good player.”
Jagr, who has four goals and four assists in the past seven games, leads the Panthers with 48 points (21 goals, 27 assists) in 61 games. He is playing a major role as the Panthers compete for first place in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference and attempt to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in 15 seasons.
Jagr has earned respect throughout the NHL for his incredible work ethic and conditioning to remain a consistent threat in a league that has become much younger in recent years.
“When we give [the players] a day off, he shrugs his shoulders and goes on the ice,” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. “He does what he wants to do, and that’s the way it should be. He’s 44, he knows what makes him a good hockey player, he knows how to prepare for a game, and that’s what he does. It’s worked for him a long time, and as coaches we worry about him being tired, and he worries about getting ready for games.
“It seems like every second night he’s breaking a record. It’s been great for our organization and great for our young players.”