Solo postgame skate sessions add to legend of Jagr

Solo postgame skate sessions add to legend of Jagr
May 21, 2013, 4:45 pm
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NEW YORK CITY – Jaromir Jagr had his trademark smile plastered on his 41-year-old face as he walked out of the Bruins visitor’s dressing room at Madison Square Garden after an optional morning skate prior to Game 3 against the Rangers.

He didn’t speak with reporters, but instead headed off to the bus with the rest of the Bruins players that opted to stay off the ice. He also allowed the coaching staff and fellow players to answer for some of his curious “Jagr being Jagr” practices, like skating on the TD Garden ice hours after Game 2 had been decided on Sunday.

That’s the hockey god-given right of the guy that’s the NHL active leader in playoff goals (78, 11th all-time), assists (115, 12th all-time) & points (193, 6th all-time) in this spring’s Stanley Cup tournament.

The future Hall of Famer was skating all by himself while working on his quick turns and stick-handling in the offensive zone, and was doing it all while wearing a weighted vest and weighted ankle pads. The thinking is old school all the way: the added weight will make Jagr quicker when he needs it on the ice during playoff games.

It’s something his Bruins teammates have seen Jagr do on numerous occasions over the last couple of months, along with his pregame twirls on the ice in a T-shirt, shorts and a Bruins toque.  

“I don’t want to do that,” said a smiling Brad Marchand. “Maybe when I’m a little older, I might need to do it. But I’m going to stay away from it right now. When [Mark] Recchi was here you’d see him jump on the treadmill, and so some sprints. But I’ve never seen a guy go out there and wheel around with a weight vest.

“I don’t know where he finds the energy to do it. It just shows how dedicated he is to keep getting better. Maybe I should pick on some of them and have a tenth of the career that he’s had. You can laugh at the stuff with the weight vest, but if you do that for 10 years it’s going to go a long way.”

Clearly the Bruins coaching staff doesn’t have any issues with Jagr going out for extra postgame work on the ice. If it starts turning into a Herb Brooks skating drill scene for “Miracle”, then maybe that would be a different story.  

“It’s not something that’s uncommon. Guys have done it in the past,” said Claude Julien. “Let me put it this way, [Jagr] doesn’t go out there and bag skate himself. He goes out there and works on his shot and stick-handling. He’s working on things based on his skills.

“If anything it’s good for him to not be satisfied with his game at his age. It’s remarkable that a guy that’s accomplished so much still wants to improve himself.”

Most of it is about Jagr getting the feel for his game after being shut out with zero goals in his first nine postseason games with the Bruins, including a couple of robbery jobs by goaltenders right in front of the net. Normally Julien would want older players getting plenty of rest when they’re not required to practice, but “The Jagr” is a rare, different breed.

“You’ve got to let Jaromir take care of Jaromir. He knows his body, and he knows himself,” said Julien. “Right now it’s about making sure guys feel about themselves, whatever it takes. I’ll give guys days off when it’s needed.

“He’s a guy that demands a lot of himself. But sometimes it’s about a guy having so much respect from other teams that there’s more room for other guys. Even if he doesn’t score goals, he’s having an impact.”

It remains to be seen if the extra skating sessions pay dividends for Jagr on the scoresheet, but nobody can say that the 41-year-old living legend isn’t trying to up his game.