There’s only one letter between the acronyms for the National Hockey League and the National Football League, and both the NHL and NFL have been criticized for not signing certain players. That may have been what led to this hilarious USA Today error:
— Charley Verrit (@DirectingTitan) September 21, 2017
The 45-year-old Jagr has made plenty of headlines for his desire to keep playing high-level hockey, and he’s talked about exploring European leagues if the NHL doesn’t want him back, but the NFL? Arguing there’s a place for him in that league is probably a bridge too far, even if he did post 16 goals and 46 points for the Florida Panthers last season. (But you never know, he might be a better quarterback than Blake Bortles.)
In any case, the actual column is pretty good, with long-time USA Today hockey writer Kevin Allen making the case that Jagr deserves another NHL shot:
But it’s not as if Jagr can’t play anymore. Somehow he found a way to stay productive even though he can’t match the jet propulsion shown by today’s stars.
Puck-protection skills. Creativity. Experience. Jagr uses all of his tricks to stay relevant.
He posted 16 goals and 46 points for the Florida Panthers last season, good enough for 119th in the league scoring race. That means Jagr had more points than more than 600 other NHL players.
In a league always searching for added offense, it would seem like there still should be room for the entertaining Jagr. At the very least, he could add a spark to a power play or offer secondary scoring. He’s not the superstar he once was, but his personality would be a gift for any fan base and dressing room. Not a day goes by without Jagr saying or doing something that makes you grin.
His work habits would also set an example for younger players to follow. Tales of Jagr working out in the middle of the night are legendary.
NHL salary cap constraints and a younger league conspire against Jagr, but he hasn’t given up. That’s not who he is. He always seeks the greatest challenge. He is always pushing to explore beyond normal limitations. That’s another reason why a team should give him another season.
And a team probably should. But a NHL team, not a NFL one.
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