NEWARK, NJ -- Every day is a great day in the world of 41-year-old future Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr, who greeted the media at the Prudential Center and started things off by talking about how much he enjoys his seasonal run-ins with fellow forty-something Martin Brodeur.
But the real interesting thoughts from Jagr came when the conversation moved toward his new linemates of Monday night and tonight’s game against the New Jersey Devils. Jagr and Brad Marchand combined for a pair of goals in their six-goal outburst against the Hurricanes, and the legendary right winger showed off the power and creativity still coursing through his body while competing against players half his age.
Gregory Campbell wouldn’t seem like a natural fit between Jagr and Marchand given his normal role on the fourth line, and Jagr illustrated the pros and cons of having such a solid defensive pivot skating with them in terms that might make a defensive-mind coach like Claude Julien just a little nervous.
“Sometimes it’s hard for guys that haven’t played top six because they’re not used to making risky plays. But sometimes you have to take risky plays to make some great offensive play,” said Jagr, who might be the first player to utter the phrase “risky plays” in a positive light in the Bruins dressing room over the last six years. “But I know they don’t like to do that and they like to play safe. It’s tough to play with me and play safe.
“I like to take the risky stuff. But the great thing about [Campbell] is that he’s so responsible defensively that me and [Marchand] don’t have to worry about it that much. It worked pretty well in the last game.”
One thing that’s been apparent in the first few games with Jagr and Marchand skating together is the way the Nose Face Killah defers to the Czech living legend in certain offensive situations. Marchand passed to Jagr rather than shoot in that final power play possession in Montreal last weekend, and he did it again on Monday night against the Hurricanes.
But that appears to be the way Jagr likes it.
“That’s a good thing . . . I’m always open,” said a grinning Jagr. “I told him I’m always open. He’s smart enough to understand. He’s not a selfish guy. He did that [on Monday night] with a 5-0 lead, and I don’t think he would do that if the game were tied.
“I appreciate that he looked for me. I’m not going to tell him ‘don’t pass me the puck’ because I want the puck. He did it in a 5-0 game, so it wasn’t that bad . . . but I know the coaches didn’t like it.”
Even if they didn't, they appreciate Jagr's skill set. Claude Julien explained that the addition of Jagr has been a positive influence in the Bruins dressing room both on and off the ice.
“He brings more offense," Julien said of Jagr. "There’s no doubt it. You see in the offensive zone that he’s strong on the puck and he finds players with great seam passes. Guys are slowly getting used to those because at first I think they were a little surprised it was coming to them. He’s had a great attitude. As you can see he’s very open to the concept of our team and he believes in what we’re doing. That’s very important.
“He’s been a great addition. It doesn’t matter whatever has been said or not said about him doesn’t matter because we’re happy with what we’ve got out of him so far.”
It's clear watching Jagr just how differently he sees the game than the rest of the Bruins players on the ice, and that makes him a valuable asset to a team that doesn’t always lead the league in puck creativity.