San Jose Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl grew up idolizing Jaromir Jagr, so he would probably be thrilled to find out that the 41-year-old New Jersey Devils forward sees a little bit of himself in Hertl.
“He’s playing a similar style. I like to play on the boards. I like to play in the corners. And, he’s got a lot of skill, and he’s shown it,” Jagr said, according to CSN Bay Area.
Jagr also noted that having Hertl play alongside a star like Joe Thornton is giving him an opportunity similar to the one Jagr had with Mario Lemieux in Pittsburgh.
Hertl, who celebrated his 20th birthday on Nov. 12, turned a lot of heads when he scored six goals in his first three NHL games, including a four-goal night against the New York Rangers. Rather than fizzle out after his hot start, Hertl hasn’t gone more than three contests without a point this season. He leads all rookies with 12 goals and 18 points in 22 contests.
Hertl, like Jagr, is a product of the Czech hockey system and made the transition to the NHL straight from the country’s top league. As Jagr noted, moving from European hockey to North American can be tough even for talented players because the NHL forces you to play along the boards and corners more.
“That’s not his problem,” Jagr said. “He was playing that kind of style in Europe, so you knew it was a matter of time he was going to be good in the NHL.”
The two played against each other twice during the lockout, but tonight’s meeting between the Devils and Sharks will be their first NHL match. So what can we expect?
“I’m got to give him a challenge today, that’s for sure,” Jagr said. “I might get my first hit of the season. I’ve got to end my streak, I guess.”