A majority of today’s NHL players weren’t even born yet when Jaromir Jagr made his NHL debut on October 10, 1990, and now they’re going head-to-head with him in the NHL as we get closer to Jagr’s 46th birthday.
One player who grew up watching and idolizing Jagr during the 1990’s was Florida Panthers centre Vincent Trocheck. The 24-year-old grew up close to Jagr’s house in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and always wondered what it would be like to catch a glimpse of the NHL superstar.
Trocheck recently shared a lot of stories in his article for The Players’ Tribune called ‘Don’t Let Jagr DJ’, including what it was like to play against Jagr, what it was like to be his teammate, and why you should never let him control the music in the room.
I remember being like seven years old, just hoping to catch a glimpse of Jágs around my neighborhood in Pittsburgh. His house wasn’t far from where I grew up, but he was elusive. Other kids on my street used to tell me they’d see him from time to time, but I never laid eyes on the mullet.
The Penguins were past their glory days of the early ’90s — things weren’t what they used to be. But we had Jágs.
Although he never crossed paths with Jagr when he was a kid, his dream came true once he made it to the NHL.
I was in the middle of nowhere — some 30,000 feet above eastern Canada — and I was staring at Jaromír Jágr.
I’m watching him use Derek MacKenzie’s iPad. He’s playing Bejeweled or some s***. Derek has two kids under the age of 10, so his iPad is filled with all these games. Jágs, with no headphones on, is powering through levels before we touch down.
He’s 43. At this point in the season, he’s leading our first-place Panthers team in points. And he’s swiping his fingers across the iPad screen like a kid on a family road trip.
I’m watching him like, Man, I’ve looked up to this guy my whole life. And here he is, playing Bejeweled.
Trocheck mentions in his piece that the first NHL goal he ever scored came on an empty net against the New Jersey when Jagr was still a member of the Devils and it was the five-time Art Ross Trophy winner he outskated to score the goal.
About one year later, they were teammates.
Almost exactly a year after that goal, in February of 2015, I was scrolling through Instagram, as you do, between sets at the gym with my trainer on one of our off days. I saw a pic of Jágs photoshopped into a Panthers jersey with the headline: JÁGR TRADED TO FLA.
That was the best trade deadline-day news I’ve ever heard.
While Jagr always seems like an outgoing character on social media and in media scrums, it turns out he was pretty quiet following his trade to Florida. However, that all seemed to change as the season rolled on and the Panthers got hotter and hotter.
Our team ended the ’14–15 season strong. And the next year was the best full season of hockey I’ve ever had in my life. During that 12-game win streak we had, our locker room was a blast. We’d always have music going after every win, with different guys picking the playlist. I remember, after one of our wins, somebody asked Jágs what he wanted to hear.
He said, “Poison.”
Everybody cracked up.
“No … I’m serious. Put on Poison.”
He’s a great hockey player but a terrible DJ.
I guess every rose has its thorn.
It turns out anything is possible.
(H/T The Players’ Tribune)