Jaromir Jagr is extremely important to the Florida Panthers, and not just because he found such great chemistry with Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov.
One can imagine a scenario where the Panthers’ bounty of youngsters make a huge leap and help Florida burst onto the scene in its market.
Still, many would probably agree that the Panthers are more likely to make incremental improvements in 2015-16, which pivots back to Jagr: if this team wants any butts in seats, their veterans may be the ones to draw them. Even if it’s really about the young guns.
Barring that meteoric rise, it will take time for crucial casual fans to really get acquainted with the likes of Nick Bjugstad, Huberdeau, Barkov and even Aaron Ekblad.
In the meantime, the Panthers can trumpet Jagr’s continued gallop through the record books to entice the less-hardcore among their potential base. Just look at how much he could climb if the 43-year-old continues to defy the aging process:
All-time goals list:
3. Brett Hull – 741 goals
4. Marcel Dionne – 731
5. Jagr – 722
2. Mark Messier: 1,887 points
3. Gordie Howe: 1,850
4. Jagr: 1,802
Remarkable stuff, right?
Roberto Luongo may be a subtle draw, too, although goalies probably don’t bring in audiences quite like a seemingly ageless, legendary forward might.
Again, the truth is that Jagr would ideally serve as a supporting cast member on the ice. The Panthers will probably just market him as if he’s still the marquee star – at least until the team is clearly in contention – and who would blame them?