Jagr remembers killing Hawks in '92
Remember that goal Jaromir Jagr scored in Game 1 of the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals against the Blackhawks?
Jagr does like it was yesterday.
Jagr, then a 20-year-old superstar with Pittsburgh, remembers the clutch goal he scored with 4:55 to play in the series opener when he weaved his way through Brent Sutter, Frantisek Kucera and Igor Kravchuk, then beat goalie Eddie Belfour with a backhander, to make it 4-4 in a game the Penguins once trailed 4-1.
Mario Lemieux scored in the final half-minute to give Pittsburgh the 5-4 win.
"We were down 4-1 and I didn't think we had a chance because they were forechecking really well," Jagr said on Tuesday as his Bruins prepare to face the Hawks in the Finals. "With five minutes left we were down 1 and I got lucky and score a pretty good-looking goal and Mario won it with 15 seconds left. Even though it was the first game, I thought it was a pretty key game."
Now 41 years old, Jagr is back in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time since '92. It's a whole new generation of Hawks he is facing, at least three of whom claim he has been a major influence on their careers: Jonathan Toews, Michael Frolik, who grew up in the same town as Jagr in the Czech Republic, and Brandon Saad, who idolized Jagr growing up in Pittsburgh.
"It's pretty amazing," Toews said. "He was probably one of my favorite players when I was a kid. I think I wore No. 68 when I was playing summer hockey a couple summers, had his Coho Jagr stick. I looked up to him. Now here I am getting a chance to play against him in the Stanley Cup Finals. That's pretty amazing.
"I remember talking about guys like Teemu Selanne this year. I guess Jaromir Jagr, Nicklas Lidstrom, guys like that, when they're not playing anymore, you remember the chance you had to play against them and realize it's a special honor. But it doesn't take away from the competition. You always want to prove yourself regardless of their age. I'll definitely try to take it to him (Wednesday)."
Toews was asked if he could see himself playing at the age of 41.
"Come talk to me in 15 years," the 24-year-old Toews said.
"Well, I would probably answer the same way when I was his age," Jagr said. "Fifteen years later he's probably going to answer the same way I did."
Jagr wears his hair shorter now and his beard has a touch of gray in it. He once wore his hair in a mullet.
"When I had the long hair, I wouldn't say it was the style, but I wasn't the only one who had it," he said. "There were a lot of guys who wore it, maybe not that long, but a lot of guys had long hair. It's going to come back, you'll see."
Meanwhile, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville had a new look with his lines at practice Tuesday:
Patrick Sharp - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Bryan Bickell - Michal Handzus - Patrick Kane
Brandon Saad - Dave Bolland - Andrew Shaw
Brandon Bollig - Marcus Kruger - Michael Frolik
Viktor Stalberg was back wearing a white jersey. It looks like Quenneville wants Bolland to check the David Krejci line.
Quenneville said this was how his lineup "could" look in Game 1 on Wednesday.