Every NHL fan knows Jaromir Jagr, the 43-year old veteran of over two decades of professional hockey who has defied Father Time for several seasons. But for Washington Capitals fans, Jagr is remembered as a disappointment of one of the biggest trades in franchise history.
Acquired on July 11, 2001, along with Frantisek Kucera for Kris Beech, Michal Sivek, and Ross Lupaschuk, Jagr was expected to continue his outstanding offensive production he had with the Pittsburgh Penguins with the Caps. A five-time Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer, Jagr’s career in Washington was anything but Art Ross worthy. Shortly after being traded to Washington, the Capitals signed Jagr to a then-record seven-year, $77 million contract. With such a big deal came big expectations.
In his first season in DC, Jagr recorded 79 points (31 goals, 48 assists) in 69 points, nowhere near Art Ross contention (the winner, Jarome Iginla, had 96 points in 82 games). Although he didn’t play a full season, Jagr still showed potential for a more productive season. But Jagr still failed to live up to expectations, as he recorded just 70 points in his final 121 games in a Capitals sweater. After three disappointing seasons in the District, the Caps looked to trade the heavily-paid forward; a task that was not easy by any means. Eventually, then-General Manager George McPhee traded Jagr to the New York Rangers for forward Anson Carter, a trade that then saw Jagr record 319 points in 277 games with the Blueshirts (including a 123-point season in 2005-06).
Since then, Jagr has been quite productive as he’s aged. While he’ll likely never reach the lofty numbers he used to, Jagr has been a steady contributor to the team’s he’s played for. The question many Caps fans demand to know the answer to is why did Jagr not reach the high numbers he did with the Rangers? Perhaps he never found the chemistry with the players the Caps had around him, as the team was entering a rebuilding phase and playing with a myriad of different players may not have been the best thing for the future Hall of Famer. A story emerged a few years ago that included McPhee saying that he wasn’t really for trading for Jagr, and that owner Ted Leonsis was the one who wanted it more.
Every time he graces the Verizon Center ice, Jagr is welcomed with a chorus of boos from Caps fans. But at this point in his career, it’s hard not to root for the veteran. He’s defied Father Time and recently participated in the 2016 NHL All-Star Game. Despite his disappointing career with the Capitals, Capitals faithful may have this to remind them of any good that came out of the most infamous trades in franchise history:
By Michael Fleetwood