The NHL All-Star Fiasco & Looking at the One of the Greatest Players of All-Time, Jaromir Jagr

 Welcome to another unexpected blog here, on I’d like to thank everyone for their feedback on the Rangers Mid-Season Report Card blog that was posted Tuesday night. As always, you can check out that column, along with everything else I’ve ever written, on the right hand of the site in the archive section. With some time off between now and the next Ranger game, I figure I would chime in a few thoughts about, and to quote Peter Griffin, what’s “grinding my gears.”

This NHL All-Star Game is a complete fucking shit-show. If it wasn’t for the NFL and their Pro Bowl, this would be the biggest joke of an All-Star game in all of sports. I grew up watching NHL All-Star Games my entire life. I looked forward to seeing the big stars of every team. I looked forward to seeing big name players that I didn’t see on an every day basis, especially from the Western Conference. Keep in mind, I’m 32, turning 33 this year, and when I started watching the NHL, there was no NHL Network, no internet and ESPN barely covered it. You got most of your hockey knowledge from trading cards, NHL ’94 and watching whoever the Rangers & Islanders were playing.

This All-Star Game, which should be big, because it’s the first All-Star Game in three years, due to the lockout two years ago and the Olympics last year, has been a haphazardly mismanaged shit-show from the jump. In 2011, the NHL started doing “Fantasy Draft” line-ups for their All-Star Games. Who gives a fuck? Before that, the NHL tinkered with North America vs the World. I didn’t care for that either. (For the sake of this blog, we’re not getting into the All-Star Games prior 1970.)

 Just like the hip-hop world, what’s wrong with some East Coast vs West Coast battles? What happened is the NHL has re-aligned itself so many times that you have teams that haven’t belonged in certain divisions over the years. I mean the biggest travesty of them all is seeing long time Western Conference perennial powerhouse, the Detroit Redwings, in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference.

I want to see Gretzky vs Super Mario. You want to see Borque & Neely take on Kurri & Messier. You want to see the big names, of the biggest teams and want to see rare match-ups. Now, it’s like picking teams in gym class – the fat kid is picked last. With fan voting deciding who makes an All-Star Game, you have lopsided voting and some of the top stars of the game have been snubbed, while some people who deserve a spot, like Kevin Klein of the Rangers or Subban of the Habs, get snubbed.

There is no vested fan interest in this game, which is being played for the fans in the first place! For example, I’m a Ranger fan, with only one player in the game, with Rick Nash. Out of the 30 NHL Clubs in the league, the majority of teams have only one player represented. Why should I care what team wins? I just want to see Nash do well. I have no allegiance to either squad. It’s like watching two strangers showing me their fantasy football line-ups for the week in a bar. I just don’t give a fuck.

How about those jerseys? It looks like a Monster can had sex with a racecar. Hockey has always been known for their beautiful sweaters. While it’s not part of the game, it is part of the game, if that makes sense to you. The NHL always had classy and good looking All-Star jerseys. This looks like something you would wear to a hillbilly rave.

I guess this is all to be expected. After all, the NHL has had the worst commissioner in the history of sports, in my opinion, running this league for way too long. 3 lockouts. One lost season. Owner fraud. John Spano fiasco. Rigged drafts. Luckily, the players are for the most part classy. You don’t see the bullshit that happens in the NFL happen in the NHL. The biggest problems in the NHL come from the top.

What brings me to penning this column, is what I’m pissed about the most about this game. The snubbing of Jaromir Jagr.

As is evident from the photo above, Jaromir Jagr has had some hell of a history in his on-off 24 year NHL career.  The two oldest players in the NHL today are Martin Brodeur and Jaromir Jagr, two first ballot unanimous future Hall of Famers, hands down. Unlike Marty Brodeur, Jagr is still playing at a top level, at just shy of 43 years old.  Jagr, currently with the NJ Devils, is rumored to be on the trading block, as several teams that are contenders, like the Bruins and Penguins, are looking to deal for him. On an aside, the hockey fan in me would love to see Jagr get one last run in the Penguins black and gold sweater.

Jaromir Jagr has been the best hockey player in the world ever since Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux retired. Nobody comes close. No one has had the career Jagr has had. Put it this way, if he continues his level of play for the rest of the season, Jagr will be Top 5 in Most Goals, Most Assists and Most Points in NHL history.

Just take that in for a second. We are seeing a hockey god, in that 68 Devils red jersey every time he takes the ice. For me, I live in the NY/NJ area and will watch Devils games on MSG, just to watch Jagr play. Sure, Kane, Toews, Crosby, Ovi and anyone else you want to say are great hockey players, but none of them are Jagr.

Let this seep in now. While Jagr is Top 5 in Goals, Assists & Points, how about the fact that Jagr has missed out on 5 NHL seasons! WHAT! Just think about it, if Jagr plays those 5 seasons, which were lost due to lockouts and playing in the KHL in protest of the silliness of Gary Bettman, we might be  looking at not only the highest goal scorer of all time, but a guy who would’ve had a legit threat at 1000 goals. Who knows, Jagr shows no signs of not being a top 9 forward, maybe he will pull a Gordie Howe and keep on trucking!

You can call me a Jagr fanboy, and you would probably be right. He was great during his stint with the NY Rangers. I still don’t understand why Sather, the Rangers GM, didn’t keep him. He was still producing and we weren’t in the cap era yet. I wonder if Sather regrets not keeping him around, as Jagr has continued to produce at different stops during his NHL career.

When I look at the All-Star Game, and I see guys getting a spot, just because the NHL mandates that a player from every team must be selected, it makes me sick not to see Jagr there. The Devils representative, Patrik Elias, has played well this season, but better than Jagr? I don’t think so.

The All-Star Game is supposed to be for the fans. It’s supposed to celebrate the sport of hockey. It’s supposed to be a day where the NHL showcases their best.  Put it this way, even if Gretzky had a 7 goal, 5 assist season, he would still be selected to the All-Star Game. Derek Jeter was selected to All-Star Games in his final years because he was a legend. Kobe Bryant still gets All-Star nods, despite playing for a crappy team and his best years long gone. This happens because it’s good for the sport. Fans want to appreciate greatness. For Jagr, not only to be snubbed, but to not even be honored, is disgusting.

The negatives against Jagr, in my eyes, are the fact that he’s been about money for the majority of his career, took time off to play in the KHL and has played for 7 different NHL teams during his career. Still, with all those sweaters he’s donned, you would think the NHL could do a nice video package and honor the last true icon this league still has currently playing, if you don’t count Brodeur’s weak tenure in St. Louis. You can say I’m examining this too deeply, but my opinion counts. Do you know why? Because I’m a CUSTOMER of the NHL. I spend money on games. Spend money on merchandise. Follow the league. Have the NHL package. As a CUSTOMER and FAN, I would love to see Jagr in this game, and there’s no fathomable reason why he’s not in this game.

How is Patrik Elias, as good as he is, who is 5th in scoring for the Devils this year, selected to the ASG, while Jagr, who is 1st in scoring for the Devils, is not? How the fuck does this make any sense to anyone is beyond me!

 Jagr, who will always be remembered for his run with the Pittsburgh Penguins and his two Stanley Cups, will always be included in talk for who is the greatest NHL player of all-time. While he won’t be named the greatest, he’s arguably a top 5 greatest player in NHL history.

I don’t need to give you Jagr’s career stats, or copy & paste his milestones and records from Wikipedia. If you’re reading this, you know the legacy of Jagr. I just wish the NHL did too.

I have a good friend visiting me from Florida for the weekend, as we’re going to hit FRANCESACON on Saturday. If you’re a New Yorker and into sports, you have to love Mike Francesa. Details on Francesacon are here:

All profits go to charity, and it should be a great time.

After Frannycon, my friends all plan on watching the NHL Skills competition, followed by the Royal Rumble and NHL All-Star game on Sunday. Depending on time, I’ll try to get a recap of the weekend’s events here. If not, I’ll be back late Tuesday for the Rangers/Islanders recap/opinions.

As always, thanks for supporting and spread the word!

Enjoy the weekend.

Sean McCaffrey
@NYCTHEMIC on the twitter

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