Late-night workouts paying off for Jagr

Late-night workouts paying off for Jagr
June 6, 2013, 8:00 pm
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BOSTON – The chuckles and the wonderment at Jagr Being Jagr since the 41-year-old rolled into Boston at the beginning of April have been great, and Jaromir Jagr has proven to be a valuable piece for the Black and Gold. But Jagr’s short stint has also allowed a window into how his greatness was achieved over the last two decades, and that’s been a treat to anybody that loves the game of hockey.

One of the most iconic images is of Jagr in a Bruins toque wearing shorts, a weighted vest and ankle weights out onto the ice hours after he’s played 15-20 minutes in an actual NHL game. Some have just chalked it up to the eclectic practices of a unique talent from a past generation, but it also has practical benefits in what’s going on with the Bruins right now.

“I think he’s outsmarted us all preparing for these 8 pm starts and double-overtime games,” said Andrew Ference. “He has a ton of respect in the room for coming in the way he has, and the first couple of days you’re really in awe of him because you’ve seen all of the highlights, and what he’s capable of over his career. But as time passes you see the way he works and tries to perfect himself, and tries to learn to better himself. Guys respect that, and he’s not too good to buy into what we’re trying to do.

“He’s making plays that have no chance of making it onto his highlight reel. When he’s inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame those plays from [Game 2 and Game 3] aren’t going to make it on there, but they got us wins. He’s doing the little things that it takes at this time of year to help his linemates, and put us over the top. So we have a ton of respect for him, and we’re all appreciative that he’s getting points for the stuff that he’s doing.”

All those midnight solo skating sessions with weighted vests might just have allowed the 41-year-old Jagr to still have the strength to rip the puck away from 26-year-old reigning Hart Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin in the neutral zone. The victorious one-on-one puck battle arrived in double-overtime after Jagr crossed over the 24 minute ice time mark for the first time in six years, and led to Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron creating the winning goal for Game 3.

“I don’t know what happened,” said a smirking Jagr, who didn’t want any of the credit after the victory. “I know we scored.”

That’s all Jagr said about an hour after he’d just played in a double-overtime game in the Eastern Conference Finals, and donned a weighted vest ready for a post-midnight workout into the wee hours of Thursday morning.

That gives Jagr three points in his past two games and plenty of good feelings for his contributions, even if he’s still searching for his first goal of these playoffs 15 games into Boston’s run.

The assist on the game-winner pulls him into a tie with Paul Coffey for fifth place all-time on the NHL playoff scoring list with 196 points.

The Bruins coaching staff appreciates what Jagr brings to the table, and that some of his unique training regimen is still paying off after all these years.

“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to his conditioning,” said Claude Julien. “We all know that at that age if you’re not a well-conditioned athlete, you’re not going to survive. He really does a lot of extra work. I know a lot of people laugh at all of the different things he does after a game, and going out late and shooting pucks in weight belts and everything else.

“But he’s committed and dedicated to the conditioning part of his game. That’s what’s allowed him to stay on top of his game as much as he can for a guy that age.”

Don’t be surprised if there’s a few more Bruins players showing up for Jagr’s midnight workouts if he keeps getting stronger and better in these grinding playoff games that are much more about will than talent. But chances are it won’t work for them like it has for the magnificently gifted 41-year-old, and these are some of the final chapters of Jagr Being Jagr.