BOSTON — Tuesday was a busy day in Boston for the Bruins, with a potential series of season-altering events sandwiching a crucial Northeast Division matchup at TD Garden.
Arguably the biggest news of the day came before the sun went down on Boston, however, as the Bruins acquired future Hall of Fame forward Jaromir Jagr from Dallas. No one really knows what Jagr’s addition will do to impact the race in the Eastern Conference for sure, but the Bruins are certainly expecting the 41-year-old to come in and contribute.
It offers an odd balance, too, given Jagr’s status as a living legend still playing in the league. From a pure hockey standpoint, Jagr should spark the offense and give the Bruins an element to their power play that they haven’t had arguably since Marc Savard. That obviously takes precedence over any sort of nostalgia.
The Bruins are expecting Jagr to come in and help them on their quest to win another Stanley Cup, which would be Jagr’s third. However, the Bruins aren’t expecting him to be the guy that wins them the Cup.
“There’s no doubt he’s going to help us, and there’s no doubt that’s the key word. He’s coming to help us, he’s not coming to save us, and that’s what people have to understand,” head coach Claude Julien said.
In fact, Jagr may find himself in a situation where must attempt to adjust to a complementary role. The Bruins are a veteran-heavy team, and while the addition of Jagr may be a sexy name, Boston is expecting him to skate his lane, to borrow a figurative and literal hockey cliché.
“He wants to win, and as you progress in years, your skill set and other things deteriorate, they lessen, myself included,” general manager Peter Chiarelli said before the game. “But his game is still a strong power game. He’s leading the team in scoring and you watch him play, and you see a lot of what you used to see. I think I’m confident that Jaromir will accept whatever role he’s given, and he knows he’s coming into a strong group, and he’ll help us out.”
But there is another side of the addition of Jagr that adds even more intrigue. Jagr made his debut in 1990, which came before the births of current Bruins players Dougie Hamilton, Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron. Just about every player in the Boston dressing room grew up watching Jagr dominate the NHL. Bruins center David Krejci idolized Jagr, as the two hail from the same home country.
“Yeah, I am excited, obviously,” Krejci said. “He’s a big name, especially back home. Never really thought I would have a chance to play with him on a real team other than a national team, so it’s pretty cool and I’m looking forward to it.”
Milan Lucic still couldn’t believe that he would get a chance to play alongside Jagr, a player he also respected growing up. A photograph of a 10-year-old Lucic with Jagr surfaced Tuesday, as the news of the deal started to break, just another example of the significant age gap between Jagr and some of his new teammates.
“When you hear the news that you get to play with a legend like himself, it’s definitely going to be a great addition to our team, and I think Claude said it best when he said we’re not looking for him to be a savior, we’re looking for him to add onto this team and looking for him to hopefully make us better.”
That’s all the Bruins can ask out of Jagr as they get ready to welcome him Thursday. It will be special, no doubt, for a group of players who likely get nostalgic at the thought of some Jagr’s highlight plays. Now they’re hoping he’s got just enough of that play left to help them hoist the Stanley Cup in a few months.