Alex Ovechkin can score goals. Everybody knows that. His lamp-lighting ability is unmatched in this generation (sorry, Stamkos). And as Ovechkin takes aim for Peter Bondra’s Capitals franchise goal record (472, just 23 away), I asked myself how the Russian machine stacks up against the league’s all-time greats.
If we ignore his time with the Washington Capitals (which I recommend), Jaromir Jagr has been one of the greatest players in hockey history. He’s scored 700+ goals, won two Stanley Cups, and led the league in points five times. He also gave hockey the hockey mullet, which the sport still treasures twenty years later.
Last week, one chapter of Jagr’s career ended when the Czech Republic lost 3-0 to Sweden in the bronze medal game of the World Championships. After the game, a medal-less Jagr announced his retirement from international competition. I’m sure that made people sad; I just don’t know who those people are. Jagr will play one more season in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils.
In his honor, let’s remember Jagr’s final moments in this year’s tournament.
Jagr talks to the media after the game. (Photo credit: Katie Brown)
Photo credit: Patrick McDermott
On Saturday night, two of the greatest scorers of all time matched up. They’re similar players: elite snipers from Eastern Europe with innumerable fans but many critics. In 2001, the Washington Capitals gave Jaromir Jagr the largest contract in NHL history: seven years, $77 million. In 2008, the Washington Capitals gave Alex Ovechkin the largest contract in NHL history: 13 years, $124 million. For Caps fans, however, their feelings toward each are starkly different; they hate Jagr and they love Ovechkin.
In his latest return to Verizon Center, Jagr — like his hair — was majestic. He led the Devils comeback, scoring a goal and picking up two assists, including the primary on the game winner. All night, he faced boos from the 18,506 red-clad people, who haven’t forgotten his disastrous two and a half years in Washington.
“There was a couple ‘Zoo-by!” he joked, referring to linemate Dainius Zubrus. “Oh yeah, it was ‘Zooby!’
Brendan Witt spent his twenties on the Washington Capitals’ blue line. From 1995 to 2006, Witt loosened fillings and racked up PIMs in the old bronze and blue uniforms. If you grew up loving the Capitals at the same I did, Witt was a big part of your childhood.
So Witt’s hourlong studio appearance on DC101’s Elliot in the Morning on Friday was a big treat. Elliot Segal and Witt exchanged stories like old friends, which I suppose they are. They talked about pranking Dale Hunter during the 98 finals, being Chris Simon‘s roommate, Jaromir Jagr‘s work ethic, and the disparate coaching styles of Glen Hanlon, Bruce Cassidy, and Ron Wilson– some very interesting opinions on that one.
They also talk about like 73 other topics. It’s a very long, very good interview.
What did I say yesterday? Do not smite the hockey gods lest you shall pay. In game one of the Stanley Cup Finals, Jaromir Jagr hit the post in second overtime and then collided with teammate and part-time bouncer, Milan Lucic. Shades of this, amirite?
Jaromir Jagr is a lot of things: a future hall of famer, a late-night gym rat, and a mullet connoisseur. He’s also a two-time Stanley Cup champion, and at 41, he’s about to make what may be his final run for a cup.
Early Morning Skate: So, the last time we were here, we were there. Filthy Philadelphia, needing a solid road win, and feeling optimistic to start. In fact, we were all, like, yay here we gowhattheflipwasthat?! and c’mon Holtbeast get it together and then yay Groooouuubsie and boooo Max Talbot grrr grrrr and ow that traffic-cone orange makes my soul weep and that was pretty much the best summary of that ugly mess of a game I can imagine.
Mmmm…tastes like Cheez Whiz
What exactly was it that happened that terrible, cold February night at the F-U Center? Where, exactly, were manimal Troy Brouwer and Captain 8 (despite being probably the best in Red on the ice that night) and John “Towelie” Carlson and the Millionaire and his wife and the nameless rest? Certainly not there to play hard, or at least battle back through a tough start. And why was it, exactly, the Lord Supreme in His wisdom didst create that dung-heap of a burg to begin with?
Now this is our idea of a hot Fly team. Really.
You see, I’d like to chalk up that bumbling bungle of a game simply to our visiting the giant spirit suck that is Philly and its moronic fans. Like to, but cannot. Yeah, there were a couple fluky puck bounces and what-not, but those things give as much as they take. No, what we saw was a failure to launch by the Capitals after a dis-spiriting start. It was not, in any possible permutation of the concept, ‘good.’
The Puck Drop: But it’s Spring, and Easter (for some) or Maru (for others) or Passover or Nowruz or we’re just going to stop this now. Traditionally, it’s a time for rebirth and renewal and rejuvenation and reloading and all that. For the Capitals’ flock, it’s once more the race to the playoffs.
For several years now, the Capitals have demonstrated fine mettle in April, much like the pale gossamer jonquils besotting the landscape, if those jonquils were angry, snarling, forechecking, glass-smashing monsters made of steel and laser beams.
In short, there’s two ways this ends. One: we leave Filthydelphia redolent of Whiz, covered in soot and chagrin; or two, you can eat me Peter Laviolette. No wait, that’s a given. Oh yes; or two, we bounce outta Barftown and kick it into grinder gear for the coming match-ups against the Canes and ugly Islanders (revenge want now) and be the team that showed up to rub Winnipeg’s nose in its own dark, dark shame. I know which one I’m hoping for.
Alex Ovechkin is no stranger to the Olympic games, but this summer in London he’s just along for the ride. He’s been watching his girlfriend Maria Kirlienko compete in tennis for Russia and soaking in the special atmosphere of the Olympics, watching events, meeting new people, forming new friensh —