Old hat, new record

Photo via nbcprohockeytalk.files.wordpress.com
Photo via nbcprohockeytalk.files.wordpress.com

Jaromír Jágr scores record-breaking hat trick

By Michael Sopow, Sports Reporter

At almost 43-years-old, New Jersey Devils’ Jaromír Jágr, became the oldest player to score a hat trick in NHL history. This achievement surpassed iconic legend Gordie Howe’s original record and contributed to the Devil’s 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on January 3.

“It’s not easy to score in this league anymore,” Jágr told ESPN. “With the videos, the preparation, the systems they play, plus the goaltenders are so good. I am happy for every opportunity to score goals.”

Jágr, along with fellow linemates Adam Henrique and Scott Gomez, played an instrumental part in New Jersey’s victory. Together they had a combined four goals and eight points.

This victory aided the Devils’ escape from their recent win drought, having won only two of their last 12 games played. This was Jágr’s 15th career hat trick and his 714th overall career goal, putting him just behind hall of famer Phil Esposito.

Jágr learned to skate around the age of three, and by six years old, Jágr was playing on three different hockey teams. At 12 years old, he was considered one of the best young players in the Czech Republic and competed with players years older than him.

Jágr was widely considered an intriguing and favourable prospect, but NHL teams were hesitant to pick him up early in the draft due to complications such as his required conscription in his home country. However, the Pittsburg Penguins, already equipped with star player Mario Lemiuex, took in Jágr.

Though Jágr was not an immediate offensive success, he soon improved after the arrival of Jiří Hrdina, a centreman from the Czech Republic. Jágr, with 13 points, helped the Penguins win their first Stanley Cup, serving as crucial backbone for the team.

Playing for the Penguins, Jágr was often overshadowed by teammate Lemieux. However, due to injuries for Lemieux in the early ‘90s, Jágr became the primary scorer for the Pittsburgh Penguins, where his true potential as a player was revealed.

Jágr would go on to have stints in Washington, New York, Russia, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Boston before landing with his current squad, the New Jersey Devils. Having remained a remarkably consistent player throughout his career, his latest achievement should come as little surprise to those who have followed the Czech maestro.