Jagr Passes Messier, But Where Does He Rank Among The Greats?


Written by Colin Fleming at SI.com

It’s not often you can say that someone’s formidable backside possesses attributes that are Hall of Fame worthy, but what one can say about Jaromir Jagr, who passed Mark Messier as the second leading scorer in NHL history on Thursday, is not what one can say about many other players.

That Jagr rump, and his impeccable body control, has allowed him to possess the puck at a rarefied level going back to his rookie season as an eighteen-year-old on the utterly stacked 1990-91 Pittsburgh Penguins. That team would win the Cup and repeated the next year, and should have made it a three-peat the year after, were it not for a pesky New York Islanders squad.

Jagr had yet to emerge as the mega-star he would become, for these were the Pens of Super Mario Lemieux, that is, a player Jagr long ago passed in the career scoring ranks.

No one is ever going to argue who the four best players in league history are. If you watch so much as three games a year, you know that the tetralogy comes down to Gretzky, Orr, Howe, Lemieux. Zero argument.

But what about slots five through ten? Could the now 44-year-old ‘Jags’ slip in there? We are talking—and this is bloody big—a guy who is about to trail only the Great One, Wayne Gretzky, in points. Granted, by like a thousand points, but you almost have to count Gretzky as a force unto himself, not governed by the normal rules of sports or even math. He’s Gretzky.

But how many careers have been more distinctive than Jagr’s? Or, really, harder to process, as to its real value?

Those first two seasons featured the only Cups Jagr has won. And that’s without him being the central guy, or even really close to it.

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