Jaromir Jagr is the third best forward in hockey history, according to Corey Masisak of nhl.com.
He ran the numbers — they’re here — and that was his finding. “Jagr is by no means the third most iconic forward,” he wrote.
He’s certainly not the third most popular. Critics of the statement above will immediately turn to words like leadership and toughness to try and prove it wrong.
That’s OK, but Jagr’s ability to dominate during his prime, which happened to be one of the toughest eras in the history of the NHL to produce offense, along with his excellence well into his 40s is why he deserves to be considered the best forward not named Wayne Gretzky or Mario Lemieux.
“Fuck that,” the owner of the Philadelphia Flyers was saying last week, Ed Snider. Not about Jagr; he’d been asked about patience and building a Stanley Cup-contender, waiting two, three years to compete. Nope, he said: the time is now. Or, at least, next year, since the Flyers won’t be playing in the 2015 playoffs.
“They beat us all over the ice,” is what the Leafs’ coach, Peter Horachek, said after St. Louis waylaid his team by a score of 6-1. “They beat us from the beginning to the end. They beat us all over the place.”
Gordie Howe’s family had a jam-packed 87th birthday planned for him March 31, according to Helene St. James from The Detroit Free Press. All being well, his family had a barbecue planned, and a cake, maybe some catfishing. (He’s living with his daughter, these days, in Lubbock, Texas, where it’s catfish season, apparently.)
Roman Josi is the Erik Karlsson of the West, said his (Josi’s) coach in Nashville, Barry Trotz, if CP’s Stephen Whyno is to be trusted.
Evgeny Romasko became the first Russian-born referee to work an NHL game a few weeks back, lending his whistle to a meeting in Detroit between Red Wings and Oilers. Back home in Russia, former pairs skater looked to the heavens as he hoped that Romasko might land a full-time NHL contract for next year.
“If we compare the first match with Gagarin’s flight,” Zaitsev told RIA Novosti, “the contract for the season with the NHL will be on a scale with the landing of the first man on the moon, even though he was not Russian.”
Ottawa beat the New York Islanders earlier in the month, and after it was over Senators coach Dave Cameron revealed the reason why. “You can’t win in this league without goaltending. Hammy was real good.”
Nearby, Islanders coach Jack Capuano was explaining the loss. “We have to stay the course and grind it out,” he confided. “Our structure has to be there and we have to execute and play with pace. But if you can’t score, you can’t win.”
The Toronto Star’s Rosie DiManno checked in on Toronto’s Leafs, with particular thoughts on Phil Kessel’s recent defence of his captain.
No. 81 wasn’t wildly off the mark in his extraordinary outburst on behalf of Dion Phaneuf, although the aim was wide. If Kessel wanted to unload on the bitchin’ brigade, he should have targeted the ex-Leafs who’ve found a second career as radio and TV pundits because they’re the most venomous bashers of the bunch, their insider analysis far more scathing than any critical salvo launched by a beat reporter or columnist. And on the evidence, they’re right.
Of the odious tweeters and bloggers nothing more need be said. But it’s still unclear what exactly got Kessel so hot. He ain’t saying. We’re expected to read his mind, which oftentimes seems an empty cavity.
Kyle Turris, Ottawa centreman: “Hammy is standing on his head for us. I can’t even explain how well he’s playing. It’s unbelievable.”
Scott Gomez wrote about his hockey trials and tribulations at The Players Tribune:
Life and hockey kind of mirror each other in the sense that when you’re having good times, it’s difficult to imagine how things will ever go wrong. And when you’re having bad times, well, yeah.
Czech nhl.com was on the story, too:
“Hammy” ale dál trpělivě dřel a postupně se vypracoval v kvalitního gólmana. I díky zdravému sebevědomí a velkému odhodlání. Ostatně dvouletá smlouva od Sens nebyla jen dílem štěstí, nejprve totiž uspěl na zkoušce na jejich farmě v Binghamtonu.
Calgary rookie Johnny Gaudreau talked about what’s working with the high-scoring line he’s on with Jiri Hudler and Sean Monahan:
“The chemistry is there. For me, it’s the chemistry. When you get to play with a player or a few players throughout the whole season, you just feel really comfortable with them on and off the ice. You learn more and more about them and where they’re going to be at on the ice and that’s what we’re doing right now.”
“Hammy has been exceptional,” was another thing that Dave Cameron was saying in Ottawa. “Everybody knows that.”
Jane Macdougall was married to Kirk MacLean, once, years ago, “for a spell.” This was during the time that MacLean was keeping goal for the Vancouver Canucks. Remember that? With the advent of Hockey Wives, the W Network’s new reality saga, she decided to write he wrote about her experience in a National Post feature. “Hockey can be terrifying,” she divulged.
By the end of every game, my guy looked like he’d been beaten with a ball-peen hammer. It was tough being “on your game” every game. Even the thickest skins wore thin on occasion. Once, we were hosting a salmon bake-off at the house. My cousins were razzing Kirk that his entry was lame. He just laughed and said they’d have to do better than that; he was used to being called a bum by 20,000 people at a time.
“We like Nazem Kadri, his teammates like him.” That was Brendan Shanahan, president of Toronto’s Maple Leafs, after Kadri slept late and missed a team meeting and had to be suspended by the team.
“Of course I’m embarrassed about it. I’m a little humiliated, but besides that it was a lesson learned. It’s something you can look to in making yourself a better person. It’s a lesson that couldn’t be more clear at this point in time. I have no ill-feelings for anybody else. I put the blame on myself. I have to bring a better level of expectation in terms of professionalism.”
Shawn Simpson, erstwhile goaltender who now talks hockey on the radio at Ottawa’s TSN 1200, on the newest Senatorial puckstop:
Hammond lower half strength and lateral ability is excellent. Great demeanor and work ethic. Mates love him. Always square on the puck.
Rene Bourque left Anaheim at the NHL’s trade deadline and landed in Columbus. “He’s big, he can skate, he can shoot,” said his new coach, Todd Richards. “He has a lot of tools.
Aaron Portzline from The Columbus Dispatch reminded Bourque what his coach had said when he was playing earlier in the year in Montreal, i.e. Michel Therrien, i.e. that what he (Bourque) lacks is a consistent enough work ethic.
Bourque bristled at that suggestion.
“Michel and I didn’t have the best relationship,” Bourque said. “We didn’t communicate. I didn’t know what he wanted from me, or vice versa. I’m definitely not a lazy player. I work hard on and off the ice.”
The Senators’ Hammy is, of course, Andrew Hammond, the pride of White Rock, B.C., a.k.a. “The Hamburglar,” a nickname he acquired in college because his name + thievery of pucks and larcenous wins.
Aged 27, he found himself starting his newfound NHL career by going 14-0-1, buoying Ottawa’s playoff hopes and challenging Frank Brimsek’s 76-year-old record of allowing no more than two goals in any of his first 12 games.
“I’m trying not to think about that stuff,” Hammond said. “It’s an extremely cool feat.”
Brimsek’s nephew wished him well. “I hope he wins because my uncle Frank has passed,” Tom Brimsek told The Ottawa Sun. “God bless him. If he gets that record, wherever his career goes after this he’ll be able to have it his whole life.”
It wasn’t to be: Brimsek’s own Boston Bruins scored four goals March 18 in a 6-4 Ottawa win.