If Jaromir Jagr isn't going to get signed by a NHL team, he should get to play all of them.
Photo by Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports
Three Stars of Comedy
The third star: The Vegas Golden Knights jersey numbers. First of all, they gave No. 97 to David Clarkson. Yes, Connor McDavid's number. To David Clarkson. Who is, I think it's fair to say, not all that Connor McDavid-ish.
So that was weird. But then they made up for it with some solid trolling:
This will get even funnier when Sidney Crosby scores 12 points in his first game in Las Vegas and Gronk-spikes the puck after every one.
The second star: This photo. Speaking of Rob Gronkowski, he is now best friends with Tuukka Rask, and this may be my new favorite sports photo of all time.
The first star: The Senators logo without eyebrows. Why yes, it's exactly what it sounds like. And no, you won't be able to un-see it.
(Original image created by Twitter's @Gerv_Rebrand, who should be in jail.)
Be It Resolved
It's September, and Jaromir Jagr still doesn't have a home for the 2017-18 season. This is unacceptable.
Yes, he's 45. Sure, he's lost more than a few steps, to the point where he'd have a hard time beating the Zamboni around the ice these days. And yes, last year's 46 points made for the least productive full season of his career. In a league that's all about speed and youth, plodding old guys aren't exactly in high demand.
Counterpoint: He's Jaromir Freaking Jagr. Let's get this done.
At this point, it seems possible that nobody will sign him, or that he may be reduced to signing a PTO (professional tryout) like some scrub. Hockey fans around the world are slowly coming to terms with the fact that there just aren't many good outcomes left for this story. Maybe Jagr gives up and retires, or he heads back to Europe. Maybe he sits around for half a season waiting for an injury. Or maybe he latches on somewhere as an unwanted fourth-liner, and the whole thing takes on a sad Jerry-Rice-as-a-Seahawk vibe.
There is a better way.
So be it resolved: The NHL must immediately institute the Jaromir Jagr Rule. If you're over 40 and you've won multiple scoring titles and you still want to compete and nobody's signing you, you get to play for everyone.
Yes, everyone. Here's how it works: We give Jagr two more weeks to sign a real NHL contract—no PTOs or two-way deals or any of that nonsense. Somebody commits to the guy, or else we take matters into our own hands.
If Jaromir Jagr still doesn't have a deal by September 15, he plays for everyone. Every team in the league gets to use Jagr for one home game and one away game. That adds up to 62 games, which sounds about right for a 45-year-old who'll need some rest here and there.
But who gets him for which games? That's the fun part. Gather round your TV, kids, because Saturday, September 15, is the Jaromir Jagr draft. That's right—every team in the league, in reverse order of last year's standings, gets to pick the games it has Jagr in the lineup.
The Golden Knights probably use the first overall pick on their home opener. The Avs could, too—it's the next night, and it's not too far a flight. The better teams might want to save him for crucial games later in the season, especially against the elite teams. OK, let's face it, especially against the Penguins.
Be honest: If the NHL held that draft, you would watch that so hard your eyeballs would explode. And then imagine the season playing out. Jagr's one home game as a Penguin. His return to New York. The Capitals using him for the outdoor game so that he can also be the oldest guy on the alumni team. The home-and-home between the Bruins and the Habs where he plays for both teams. Best of all, the NHL website with a little "Where's Jagr?" graphic, in which he's wearing glasses and a red-and-white striped shirt.
Look, I may have thought about this too much, but don't act like you're not on board. Make this happen, NHL. Your millions of fans, and one very old man with a mullet, are demanding it.
Obscure Former Player of the Week
It's college free agent season, with players like Will Butcher sparking the annual debate over whether NCAA players should have different rights than their CHL counterparts. This has been a long-running issue for the NHL, dating back to the 1980s when bidding wars over players like Adam Oates led to the institution of the short-lived supplemental draft. While it only ran from 1986 to 1994, the supplemental draft did produce a handful of legitimate NHL stars, including John Cullen, Steve Rucchin, and NHLPA '93 legend Shawn Chambers. It also produced this week's obscure player: Dave Snuggerud.
Snuggerud was a hard-working winger who made his name at the University of Minnesota and spent time with the American national team in 1988. That stint included an appearance at the Winter Olympics, where he scored three goals for Team USA, as well as a rare international fight against Canada's Trent Yawney. The Sabres had taken him with the second pick in the 1987 supplemental draft, and he made the team out of training camp in 1989. He scored 14 goals and earned a handful of votes in both the Calder and Selke races his rookie season, which would end up being the best of his career.
While his production dipped after that, he remained an NHL regular for a few years; the Sabres traded him to the Sharks for Wayne Presley in 1992. He also had a quick run with the Flyers, but he was out of the NHL by 1993, and out of pro hockey altogether by 1995. All told, Snuggerud played 265 NHL games and scored 30 goals. His legacy includes some solid hockey hair and one of the most enjoyable names in recent league history.
After his playing days ended, Snuggerud went into teaching and coaching. His nephew Luc is currently a prospect in the Blackhawks' system.
New Entries for the Hockey Dictionary
The Doan Effect ( noun): The unwritten but nearly universal rule among hockey fans and media which holds that a player who spends all (or almost all) of his career with one franchise seems to get far more love than players with similar resumes who played for several teams.
This concept isn't new, but with Shane Doan retiring this week after a 21-season career with the Coyotes/Jets, it seems like a good time to give it a name. Doan was a perfectly fine player. He scored 400 goals, could be a physical force, and was a respected leader. He played in two All-Star games. He was good.
But if you didn't follow hockey and were just going by the reaction to his retirement this week, you might think you were witnessing the end of a legendary career. This is a guy who never finished in the top ten in voting for any major award, or in the top five for postseason All-Star winger honors. He didn't get a single Hart Trophy vote in his two-decade career.
And yet, his retirement feels like a really big deal. That's the Doan Effect kicking in. Players who are closely identified with one team just seem to get a big boost to all their legacy sliders that players who bounce around the league don't. It helps explain why Adam Oates and Mark Recchi had to wait years to get into the Hall of Fame, while Mike Modano was a never-in-doubt sure thing. Jeremy Roenick (five teams), Pierre Turgeon (six), and Bernie Nichols (six) aren't getting in, but Daniel Alfredsson will. I don't think the Doan Effect is unique to the NHL—it seems to crop up in other sports—but its impact seems especially strong in hockey.
To be clear, I'm not sure that's a bad thing. From a fan's perspective, a player's legacy has to be more than the sum of his stats and award votes. There's something to be said for the connection that develops between a player and a fan base over a long career, and if that bleeds over into the wider perception of a career then that seems fair. It's a reasonable approach to take.
But it does need a name. And now it has one. Thanks, Shane.
Classic YouTube Clip Breakdown
The Philadelphia Flyers announced this week that they'll be retiring Eric Lindros's No. 88 this season, because I told them to. The news comes a year after Lindros finally got his call from the Hockey Hall of Fame.
Hall of Fame induction and number retirement are two of the highest honors any athlete can achieve, but they pale in comparison to the very top of the mountain: appearing on an early 90s episode of The Arsenio Hall Show. Luckily for Lindros, he did that, too.
- It's sometime in the spring of 1993, and a teenaged Lindros has recently finished scoring 41 goals in 61 games as a rookie with the Flyers. He's also just been named one of People Magazine's most beautiful people. Life is good.
- Now he's going to appear on The Arsenio Hall Show, which was pretty much the height of coolness back then. Seriously, forget the infamous Sports Illustrated cover a year later—getting a rookie on Arsenio was basically the NHL's marketing peak.
- Arsenio introduces Lindros while making his name rhyme with "Vandross," and Eric heads out to say hello. Word is he'd planned to charge out wearing a tasseled denim vest, sprint through the crowd, and flip the couch, but somebody else got there first, so he went with the standard handshake.
- We start off with a typical Arsenio question, in which he gets really serious while leaning forward and tenting his fingers. Arsenio Hall was more engaged and attentive on every throwaway question he ever asked a guest than I was exchanging my wedding vows. Dude was the best.
- Hall mentions having several hockey fans on his staff, including cameraman John Gillis. According to his IMDB page, Gillis's other credits include Hollywood Squares, My Two Dads, and Solid Gold, just in case you were worried that there wasn't someone out there having a way cooler life than you.
- Hall goes with a thought-provoking question about starting a roster from scratch and the nature of team-building, at which point Lindros responds, "I really don't know." I think I might have figured out why hockey players don't get invited on many talk shows, you guys.
- I can't decide which I want to own more, Lindros's shirt or Arsenio's jacket. I think the answer is both, and that I want to wear them at the same time. I could pull that off, right?
- "They say you have no weakness. What do you think your weakness is?" asks Hall. Lindros ponders the questions, gets a few words into his answer, then falls over injured and goes on the LTIR for three months.
- Actually, Lindros lists a few players who he can't yet measure up to, including a mention of "Wayne Gretzky, who took the Kings all the way" as the crowd cheers. Wait. Do… do Americans think the Kings won the Stanley Cup in 1993? Did you get an alternate version of the series where they cut off the feed right before McSorley's stick measurement? How many of Canada's other dozen Stanley Cups since 1993 have they not told you guys about?
- Lindros ends up mentioning four players he can't compare to: first ballot Hall-of-Famer Brett Hull, first ballot Hall-of-Famer Wayne Gretzky, first ballot Hall-of-Famer Paul Coffey, and… Keith Acton. Huh. That's the most out of place any pro athlete has ever been in a group of four since Mongo McMichael joined the Horsemen.
- We transition into the story of Lindros's first time on skates, and then into a vaguely weird discussion of him playing barefoot that ends with him saying "skin to win." I'm so disappointed that he didn't stick with that as his catchphrase. It sounds so much better than his eventual choice, "I want to strangle Bobby Clarke."
- We move on to topics like teeth and Philadelphia, and you can start to sense Arsenio desperately trying to pull an insightful answer out of this kid. He succeeds somewhat with a question about fighting. Then he mentions talking to Lindros's dad before the show, which is clearly a lie because Lindros is still here and not holding out for a spot on Chevy Chase.
- Lindros drops a mention of Chatham, Ontario, at which point half the audience cheers like they have any idea where that is. Apparently, they're big on Ferguson Jenkins, Robertson Davies books, and Hawaiian pizza.
- Hall starts wrapping things up, at which point Lindros finally says something interesting when he mentions falling down the stairs at school during an awkward growth spurt. Hey, that sounds like a story. We can build on this. Take us home, Eric!
- "And uh, I don't know what happened."
- Epilogue: All of the hockey fans on Hall's staff were fired three seconds after this episode ended.
Have a question, suggestion, old YouTube clip, or anything else you'd like to see included in this column? Email Sean at firstname.lastname@example.org .