MARLBORO, NY – With the uneventful first few days of March Mildness lingering like the flatulence from eating too much corned beef and cabbage on St. Paddy’s Day, I’m here to follow up on Different Matt’s Friday hockey column. Granted, he and I are probably the only one’s who care about hockey enough to write about it but the baseball season hasn’t begun, the NBA sucks around these parts and NFL free agency has been lacking so far. So today’s menu is all Rubber Bicuit-related: Jaromir Jagr, the Code Among Hockey Enforcers, and the NHL Playoff Races.
Jaromir Jagr: This guy made his NHL debut on October 5th in 1990 and is still the fitness and physical marvel today that he was when he took the league by storm at eighteen. I won’t bore you with a list of his career accomplishments but today he will appear in his 1,7ooth NHL game in the place where it all began for him, as his current and eighth team, the Florida Panthers, are on the road in Pittsburgh to face off against the Penguins. Consider that Jagr opted to play in the Russian KHL for three full seasons. Otherwise he would sit atop the games-played list ahead of Gordie Howe. This is not the end of the story as far as games played is concerned, however. Jagr is still playing at an unbelievably high level at the age of 45 and continues to be strong on the puck when he possesses the rubber but his contract ends with the season in April as Florida is fading in the standings. If he decides to play for another contract there is sure to be a team out there that will come calling should the Panthers let him walk as a free agent. Next year he will need to stay his healthy self and play in 68 games to become the all-time leader in games played. He is not the sideshow you would think an aging icon in any sport would be but rather a productive piece on his team as I’d like to see him continue his career until he decides he’s had enough.
NHL Enforcers: Austin Watson (12 fights on the year) of the Nashville Predators and Brenden Dillon (4 fights) of the San Jose Sharks showed last week the chivalry among NHL pugilists. It used to be all teams had two or three guys on the bench solely for any shenanigans transpiring during the course of a game but now, with the all but the abolition of fighting in today’s NHL, there is one slot allocated for such artists. The game may change over time but the warrior code is still alive and well and the sportsmanship among fighters remains as is exhibited in the video.
Playoffs: The current NHL Playoffs format was intended to make the last days of the regular season count, as opposed to teams mailing it in, to achieve a better match-up in the opening round. The format has not disappointed, as nothing has been clinched as of yet with a little more than three weeks remaining. Buckle your seat belts. It should be a fun stretch for you hockey fans out there.
That’s it. Please comment below and come back tomorrow for Hugh Waite – pinch-hitting for DJ Eberle, who is vacationing at Spring Training. And please follow us on Twitter – @CheesyBruin & @MeetTheMatts, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matt.