Jaromir Jagr’s time in New Jersey is off to an inauspicious start.
The 41-year-old forward left his first on-ice appearance with the Devils prematurely, with what the club is calling “soreness,” according to NHL.com:
Jagr seemed to be wincing a short time after taking the ice with his group here at AmeriHealth Pavilion.
He was skating on a line with Travis Zajac and Patrik Elias before he left the ice and did not return.
While it’s not unusual for a 41-year-old to experience some soreness after months of inactivity, Jagr is no usual 41-year-old.
Last year, he played 34 games with Kladno in the Czech league and another 34 with Dallas before getting dealt to Boston. From there, Jagr appeared in 11 regular season contests with the Bruins, then 22 playoff games.
So, 101 games all told.
It was also a year in which his rigorous training practices — late-night workouts, after-hours access to rinks — came to light.
Here’s more on that, from CBC’s Elliotte Friedman:
“The first time I found out (about the late-night routine), I arrived at the rink first thing in the morning…and saw this huge mess of Jagr’s gear soaking wet on the ground. He’s, uh, kind of a messy guy,” [Flyers head equipment manager Derek] Settlemyre said, and you can tell he’s smiling at the memory.
“It wouldn’t be like our guys to leave that. So I asked him if he forgot to get his stuff washed. He said, ‘Oh no buddy, that was last night. I came in around 11.’
“We had a key made for him. He would do double workouts, even after games.”
Here’s another anecdote, from Dallas Magazine:
A few days before the first game, he landed in Dallas and shirked the team’s offers to find him an upscale apartment near downtown Dallas.
Instead, Jagr rented a room at an extended-stay hotel for $169-a-night. He asked management for a key to the rink, and on the team’s nights off, sometimes well after 10 pm, Jagr would go by himself to the ice to skate.
In Dallas, team officials latched onto the Jagr-as-mentor storyline.
He runs drills after games and the young guys join in, hopping from leg to leg outside the locker room, skating extra reps of sprints in between the blue and red lines, or swinging around a small circle weight on the end of their hockey sticks.
This past postseason, pics of Jagr going for a late night skate have popped up (see here), as did some showing him in a weighted vest (see here), a 30-pound flak jacket he wears for strength and conditioning.