Panthers forward passes Mark Messier for second all-time in points
SUNRISE, Fla. – It wasn’t pretty, but it was history.
Jaromir Jagr passed Mark Messier to claim sole possession of second place on the NHL’s all-time scoring list on Thursday night, earning the 1,888th point of his illustrious career with a rather unconventional assist in the Florida Panthers’ 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins.
The historic point came with 6:40 left in regulation, when Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson fired a shot towards Boston’s net, with the puck clipping Jagr’s rear-end and hitting Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask before bouncing onto the stick of Aleskander Barkov, who scored Florida’s lone goal of the game.
“I feel it,” Jagr said of the play. “During my hockey career, even if (the puck) hits you, they don’t give it to you. I’m not the guy that’s going to tell (the referees) ‘it hit me,’ so we have to wait for everybody to say it’s ok. It would have been kind of embarrassing if we celebrated and then have them say it didn’t hit him.”
After a short review, play was stopped and Panthers captain Derek MacKenzie presented Jagr with a golden stick to commemorate his amazing achievement.
“I was dreaming about something else,” said Jagr, who has six goals and 13 assists in 33 games this season. “I thought I was going to score a beautiful goal, beautiful assist.”
After the game, Barkov, while happy to be a part of history, jokingly apologized for the role he played in the unusual way that Jagr’s milestone unfolded.
“In 20 years, you’re not going to remember against who you played or whether you win or not, you’re just going to remember that you were part of it,” Barkov said. “Of course (Jagr) said he wanted to score a nice goal, but I’m sorry Jags.”
A veteran of 23 NHL seasons, Jagr recorded point No. 1,888 in his 1,663rd game. Messier hit his total of 1,887 in 1,756 games. Wayne Gretzky holds the NHL’s all-time points mark with 2,857, which he accomplished in just 1,487 games played.
“The only way you can play, and do what he’s doing right now, is to make sure you are putting in the time for your conditioning and taking care of yourself,” Messier said of Jagr in a conference call last week. “The game has to be the No. 1 priority in your life because it takes a lot of time to prepare each and every game, let alone each and every season. You’ve got to give Jaromir a lot of credit for what he’s been able to do early in his career, and then maybe even more credit for how he’s been able to sustain himself.”
The fifth overall pick in the 1990 NHL Draft, Jagr has played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils and Panthers. After 2007-08 season, the Kladno, Czech Republic native left the NHL to spend the next three years in the KHL, before returning in 2011-12.
“This is kind of anticlimactic for me in a way,” Messier said. “I understand the amount of time he put in overseas. In my own mind he surpassed me a long time ago.”
Jagr’s points are divided into 755 goals, third all-time, and 1,133 assists, sixth all-time. He needs 46 more goals to catch Gordie Howe (801) for second place and 139 more to catch Gretzky (894).
Are those next milestones within reach?
Well, when asked whether or not this latest accomplishment could potentially be a fitting bookend to his already legendary career, the 44-year-old forward, taking a moment to gather his thoughts, certainly didn’t sound like he plans to hang up his skates anytime soon.
“Whatever you wish for, you can accomplish anything as long as you work and you love it,” Jagr said. “I still love the game. Thanks to the Florida Panthers, they gave me the opportunity to play here. I love the game. I’m willing to do anything to play as long as I can.”