Jagr leaves NHL for final time, ending all-time great career

Jaromir Jagr’s NHL days are over. While the 45-year-old future Hall of Famer hasn’t officially retired, he isn’t likely to see another opportunity following his recent stint with the Calgary Flames, and he returned to the Czech Republic after the Flames placed him on unconditional waivers last Sunday. Jagr leaves as one of the greatest scorers to ever play the game, and his legacy of longevity is one few could ever hope to match.

Calgary didn’t have much use for Jagr, and he never quite settled into the supporting role and the correspondingly limited ice-time he received with the Flames, but just the fact the was still playing was an accomplishment. Jagr suffered a lower-body injury near the end of December, which effectively ended his NHL career many years after his peers had already retired. As a sign of his age and timeless talent, Jagr spent much of his final few seasons playing on lines with players who weren’t yet born when he played his first NHL game, and life without Jagr will be a big adjustment for hockey fans after more than a quarter-century of seeing him on the ice.

Jagr is second in all-time points behind Wayne Gretzky and third in goals behind Gretzky and Gordie Howe, and he’s also third in games played behind Howe and Mark Messier. Jagr’s career was similar to Howe’s in the decades it spanned, and only Howe and Chris Chelios were able to continue playing beyond the age of 45. Jagr’s career ranks among the best ever no matter how it is measured, and his ability to transcend time isn’t likely to be replicated as NHL rosters skew younger and younger.

Jagr signed with the Kladno Knights - a team he owns in the Czech Republic - on Wednesday, although when he will play again remains a mystery due to the injury he suffered with Calgary. That lingering issue is also why Jagr is ruling out the possibility of an appearance at the 2018 Olympics, citing a lack of fitness.