With the NHL trade deadline just one day away, rumors were heating up again with names of potential suitors for the Czech Republic native. Montreal and Boston appeared to be the frontrunners, and with the Canadiens leading the Bruins by three points in the pursuit for first place in the Northeast Division, it seemed only a matter of time before one would block the other from acquiring Jagr.
Finally, at 1:11pm ET, I received word from a highly reliable and trusted source that the deal had been made. Immediately, I sent out word on the wonderful world of Twitter that Jagr was a Bruin.
Two hours later, the deal was confirmed by the NHL. Jagr joined his sixth NHL team (Pittsburgh, Washington, New York Rangers, Philadelphia and Dallas) this week, scoring in his first game with the B's.
Boston was coming out of the month of March with an overall record of 22-8-4 and in fourth place in the league's Eastern Conference. Most squads in the circuit would call that a very successful season, but an underlying dissatisfaction had taken over in the Bruins organization as seven of those losses occurred during the month. It became evident a change in personnel was going to take place.
At this point, the hockey world has all the details of the failed attempt to trade with Calgary to acquire Iginla and with that Boston GM Peter Chiarelli turned his attention to other forwards from around the league. Six days later, he dealt little used forward Lane MacDermid, prospect Cody Payne and a conditional 2013 first round draft pick to Dallas for Jagr.
In acquiring Jagr, who turned 41 in February, the Bruins believe they added the offensive spark that had been missing throughout the month of March. It is a given that Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton who went cold offensively, will snap out of their scoreless drought. They are much too talented and skilled to have it be prolonged throughout the remainder of the season and adding Jagr will give those players a new teammate to watch and learn from on and off the ice.
Seguin plans on taking advantage of gaining a hockey education from his new teammate.
"It's obviously very exciting," Seguin said after his Bruins defeated the Ottawa Senators on the day of the Jagr acquisition. "I know he entered the league a couple of years before I was born, so it definitely shows his experience. I'll be watching him closely."
A major reason Chiarelli completed this transaction is Jagr's ability to be the ultimate leader. He has served as captain in Pittsburgh and New York along with serving in the same role while representing the Czech Republic in World Championship and Olympic competition..
As an 18-year veteran with two Stanley Cup rings (Pittsburgh 1991, 1992), he will bring veteran leadership and scoring ability the Bruins have missed since the retirement of Mark Recchi. Jagr has played in 1,380 career regular season NHL games and has amassed 679 goals and 1,000 assists for a total of 1,679 points, which has him first in active all time NHL scorers. This season, he has 14 lamplighters and 12 helpers totaling 26 points placing him in a fourth place tie in Bruins scoring with Seguin going into Thursday's contest versus New Jersey.
It is no secret that Boston needs help on its powerplay and Jagr's six powerplay goals will put him in the lead in that category.
At times throughout his career, Jagr has been criticized for his lack of defensive play, however, he brings a career plus/minus rating of plus-275 to Beantown.
Most important, the native of the Czech Republic instantly brings Stanley Cup playoff experience that is unmatched by any player on the Bruins' roster. Jagr had appeared in 180 playoff games and has achieved the very rare feat of scoring more points (189) than games played.
Thinking along the lines that those numbers are impressive, but defense wins championships. You are correct, but when you consider Jagr's plus-33 when the Cup is on the line and you realize that the man has been, and remains, a complete player and will immediately fit into coach Claude Julien's defense first style of play.
As if that is not impressive enough, and Jagr needed to sell himself to a team, he would simply need to point to his other accolades that include his already mentioned Stanley Cup rings; a five time winner of the league's Art Ross Trophy that is awarded to the leading scorer. Along the way, Jagr led the league four consecutive seasons as the top point producer (1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001). He has accumulated three Lester B. Pearson Awards voted by the players and given to their selection for outstanding player of the year (1999, 2000 and 2006). Jagr was also awarded the Hart Trophy for the circuit's Most Valuable Player in 1999 and between 1992 and 2004, the big forward played in 12 NHL All Star Games.
The awards continue on the international stage as well. He has represented his country in three Winter Olympic Games, leading the Czech Republic to the gold medal in 1998. Jagr also has a bronze medal from the 2006 Olympics. He received the honor of carrying his homeland's flag in the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver.
Now, he brings those numbers, experience, dedication and leadership to Boston. The entire organization is excited to welcome Jagr. From the general manager on down, Jagr is not expected to be, nor was he asked to be, the "savior" by management.
"There's no doubt he's (Jagr) going to help us," said Julien. "And I think that's the key word, he's coming to help us, he's not coming to save us."
And there is no doubt. The Boston roster has lacked a player of Jagr's stature since winning the Stanley Cup two years ago. The team has not had a big turnover since 2010 and entered this season as a strong contender to come out of the East in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Now, the addition of Jagr makes the Bruins among the favorites to raise another banner next fall in Boston's TD Garden.