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Celebrating the Legend

October 28, 2014, 10:30 AM ET [226 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
A legend who spent 11 awesome years with the Penguins makes his return to Pittsburgh tonight, but before I get into there is another situation I would like to touch on first.

Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta will be having surgery in about a week to remove a mass of cells near his thyroid area. The doctors are 85% sure that it is a cancerous mass. Any time you see the ‘C’ word thrown around it certainly makes you take a step back. Everybody has had an experience with cancer whether it be through family or friends.

In Olli Maatta’s situation I can only see positives. The Penguins medical staff did a wonderful job of finding the mass early. Olli will have the proper surgery. He is cleared to play until said surgery. The recovery time that was given to him is 4 weeks (conservative time frame), and he should make a full recovery. This is fantastic news.

It is hard not to be impressed with Olli Maatta since he first busted onto the scene as a surprise addition to the 2013-14 roster. His composure for his age is remarkable. His play on the ice merited some outlier discussions about the Calder Trophy and he is now an Olympic medalist.

Maatta’s play so far this year has been spectacular. It would be easy to forget that he was coming off serious shoulder surgery and missed the Penguins entire preseason schedule. Making his level of play that much more astounding is the fact that he has known about this cancer mass since training camp. He has had this on his mind and has still been able to handle himself in a way that is well beyond his years.

An amazing person and an amazing player.

“I feel healthy, and I feel fine. The only thing that's different is that maybe I have cancer. It's tough news, but I don't think it has affected me much.”


Well damn, looks like cancer will need the luck.

Best wishes to Olli Maatta, the hockey community’s support is behind you.

****

One of the NHL’s best treasures and Europe’s best player of all time is coming back to Pittsburgh tonight. Jaromir Jagr returns to the city he spent half of his remarkable career in.

I can’t control what other Penguins fans think about him, but I have full control over how I feel about him. Today I am going to celebrate him and his excellence.

Jaromir Jagr is fresh off scoring his 19th career overtime goal in New Jersey's 3-2 win over Ottawa, an NHL record.

707 goals, 1054 assists, 1761 points and that is with three years spent away in the KHL. He is sixth all time in points and is well within range to pass up Marcel Dionne (1,771) and Ron Francis (1,798) this year to become fourth overall in points this year.

We get thrilled these days when we come across a guy that is close to being a point per game player. Jagr, even at the age of 42, still qualifies as one of those players. When you look back at his dominance it is something we may not see again.





That red line is the standard of excellence. Jagr has lived above that red line. Jagr’s low points on this chart are still at an all-star level caliber of play. To put it into perspective Kunitz’s career points per game is .72 and he is a decent enough top six winger. That is Jagr’s basement level performance. Unreal.

There has never been a player in the history of the sport where it was more difficult to take the puck from than when Jagr sticks his rear end out and protects the puck. Naturally Jagr is a possession beast.





Look at all that blue. Pretty solid. Those red years seem to coincide with lower offensive zone starts but in those two years he put up 84 goals and 219 points, so there’s that.





Another thing to keep in mind with a chart like this is the fact the sample size is from his 30’s and 40’s(!).

These numbers are great for anybody. Let alone for the time frame when you are supposed to see decline.

If you took only the games after Jagr turned 30 years old he still has 606 with 603 points. Incredible.

If you only took the points that Jagr has scored on the power play in his career it would be 202 goals, 375 assists, for 577 points.

To put that into perspective Evgeni Malkin’s career numbers to this point are 243 goals, 399 assists, for 642 points.

Jagr’s Penguins number are 806 games played, 439 goals, 640 assists, and 1,079 points.

If Sidney Crosby is lucky enough to continue producing offense at the same exact rate he has to this point in his career he will have 403 goals, 725 assists, for 1,128 points in 806 games.

Pittsburgh has been a blessed franchise.

Jagr doesn’t have too many more visits left in Pittsburgh. Celebrate his excellence. Enjoy the game tonight.

#JagrBombsForever




****

How many games should John Moore be suspended?

Thanks for reading!

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