Jagr Returns to the Devils

In a move very uncharacteristic of Jaromir Jagr’s free agency period in recent years past, he quickly re-signed with the New Jersey Devils on the same day the NHL announced that he was a nominee for the Masterton trophy.

Why the move to re-sign so quickly?

“I think both sides wanted to do it quickly,” Jagr said in a conference call with the media on Wednesday. “Lou wanted to do it because he wanted to know what direction he wanted to go.”

“No reason to change the club. I was happy.”

He said that it was likely that if he had revisited free agency there would have been other teams offering up more money than the Devils were offering to him, but he decided to stay in New Jersey.

“If I’m happy somewhere…there’s no reason to change it,” he said.

Jagr believes the Devils are a true contender for the Stanley Cup, despite not winning a spot in the playoff race this year. He said he always thought the Devils were contenders.

His reaction to discovering he was nominated for the Masterton trophy? He didn’t know what it was.

The Masterton trophy is awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. In a nutshell, that is the definition of “Jaromir Jagr.” He is that player. He played in all 82 games this season with no signs of wear. He just kept getting better and better as the season went along.

He led the club in assists (43), points (67), game-winning goals (6), and +/- (+16). He did all of this at the age of 42, as one of the oldest current active members in the NHL. He came in second in goal scoring (24) with Adam Henrique scoring only one more goal (25) than him. He outshot his teammates, shooting the puck at the net 231 times. Michael Ryder came in second with 166 shots on net.

The meaning of the Masterton, a trophy voted on by the Professional Hockey Writers Association, represents who Jagr is. While Jagr was not familiar with the award, after the media explained what it was, he said it meant a lot coming from the writers because “They’re very picky.”

“In my opinion, I love the sport. I just follow the love for the sport.”

Dominic Moore (New York Rangers) and Manny Malhotra (Carolina Hurricanes) are both up for the Masterton.

Moore took some time off in the spring of 2012 when his wife, Katie, was diagnosed with a rare form of liver cancer. She died in January 2013. He set up the Katie Moore Foundation, an organization dedicated to helping patients and families with rare cancers through research, advocacy and community. After taking some time off from playing, he returned to the NHL this season to resume his career.

Malhotra suffered a serious eye injury, but instead of letting it end his career, he signed a professional tryout agreement with the Charlotte Checkers last fall and then signed as a free agent with the Carolina Hurricanes four weeks later.

While the latter two candidates suffered serious setbacks in their life and then came back to play hockey, Jagr’s nomination solely lies in the fact of who he is at this stage in the game. He never quit. He just keeps getting better and better.

Of all teams, why did he choose the Devils? “It’s small things together,” he said. “I’m happy. I play the best hockey when I’m happy.”

What also helps is that he likes the Devils’ system. “I thought our system allowed us to compete and beat anybody. If we followed the system we had a chance every night…the system gave me the confidence to go out there and win games.”

Going into next season, his biggest goal he is setting for himself is to score more goals. While he led the team in goal scoring throughout the majority of the season, Henrique got the edge on him at the end of the season.

With an instrumental piece put into place for the Devils, the next question centers around Martin Brodeur. Will he return?

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  1. Jagr Returns to the Devils | Michelle Kenneth's Hockey and Musings - May 2, 2014

    […] You can read more from the Wednesday conference call with Jagr HERE. […]