Lessons learned from Jagr

Take a good look at this picture. Those aren’t the legs of a man who slacks or avoids the gym. This is a photo of a man who is serious about being in the best possible shape you can be in. Jagr’s training and conditioning is bar none and it is one of the reasons why he has dominated professional hockey for 20+ years.

As a member of the New York Rangers, Jagr’s ability to create offense off the cycle was beyond elite. Part of what helped create those plays in the OZ was his ability to protect the puck, and a lot of it had to do with his build and conditioning. Whenever I talk to those who have either worked for or covered teams Jagr has played for, I always hear admirable stories about JJ working out at night after playoff games, or at 3am in the morning. The guy just took his workout regimen to another level and it showed.

So what does this have to do with the current Rangers squad?

It’s simple. The Rangers don’t have a player of this ilk. There isn’t any forward on this team that has this same combo of skill, build, and will. It is a void and it should be filled. While I admire the youthful core the front office has put together, I do think our top-end players are bit undersized for long-term postseason success.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Carl Hagelin, Ryan Callahan, Derek Stepan, Brad Richards, Artem Anisimov and yes, even Marian Gaborik. However, forget what their generous roster listings say, none of these guys have the combination I speak of. Chris Kreider has potential, but even he isn’t on that level yet either (hopefully soon).

Throughout the playoffs, we were easily shutdown against lesser known big boys like Danius Zubrus, Jason Chimera, and Chris Neil. If the Rangers are going to survive the first few months of the season without their #1 scorer, it would behoove us to add someone to this top 6 that can take a hit from the Chimera’s of the world and still be able to finish a play. It’s a move we have to look into making, even if it means sacrificing a little youth in the process.

So forget free agency being the answer to everybody’s prayers. Sather needs to get creative and see what it would take to land a Ryan Clowe, a Bobby Ryan, or a Jordan Staal type player. Oh and forget Zach Parise. He isn’t the answer.

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    • It means that you can have all the skill in the world, but if you don’t have core strength, you won’t be an elite player. Elite players have the core strength to maintain puck possession.

      Everyone talks about “getting stronger” but few have any idea what that means. It’s about building your core (abs, quads, hammys, etc). That muscle group is what gives you the strength to do what Jagr does.

      • My GoD, Core muscles are not in the legs. The closest muscles of the corethat are close to the legs are the Gluteous Maximus/minimus ( your ass), which is ironic. Please stick to metrics. Yes I am a Physician

  • Suit, who said you could use this picture of me?

    Kidding aside, Jagr is built like goddamn Redwood trees in his lower body. It’s no wonder he can shield off anyone when he has the puck.

  • Denis Potvin essentially said this on the Hockey This Morning show on XM on Tuesday. I scoffed at it primarily because it was coming out of Potvin’s mouth. He said that Parise was helpless to defend on Kopitar because he is too small.

    On the face of it one would tend to agree with your thoughts about size but there is another way to look at this. Big guys can control the puck and fight off smaller checkers quite easily. Hell, Jagr has checkers hanging off of him like pilot fish.

    But his setting up shop along the half boards and waiting for a pass from Nylander or Straka got too predictable. They became a one trick pony.

    So far the scoring in this playoffs has been so low as to incredibly boring. People want to see a fast moving wide open game, not a bunch of giants standing around playing patty cake with the puck.

    To find a combination of size and SKILL is rare. There aren’t too many Lindros, Shanahans or Jagrs up for grabs right now. I would rather take my chance with speed and skill, size be damned. I’d take a Jeff Skinner over a Rick Nash.

    I would never draft for size again after the Huge Specimen debacle. The only way to add size is through free agency or a trade. So far Sather has only been able to add big wastes of space like Rupp and Scott.

    If Sather is going to add size up front via a trade , he is going to have to give up a lot to get it. Say goodbye to Dubinsky, Anisimov and Del Zotto and a first round pick to do it.

    I wouldn’t revisit the Nash deal. How about Bobby Ryan?

    • For me it is all about balance, not just in your roster, but how you create offense. The Jagr, Nylander, & Straka combo was a fantastic line that loved to overload the half boards.

      There’s nothing wrong with that strategy, so long as you also have other guys that can score on transition, from the blueline, in front of the net, etc. The Rangers at the time we’re missing a lot of that other stuff. In a sense, we still haven’t achieved that balance. I’m not sure adding another sub 5’10 transition player is the answer to our woes. Especially on the PP.

  • You hit it right on the nose.

    With the Rangers style of offensive play, they need a puck monger who is tough to knock off the puck like Jagr in his earlier years, who is out there? It’s definitely not Zack Parise. Is it Rick Nash? 6’4″ 216..

  • I think Dubi and Anisimov have disappointed in this regard. Dubi especially, because his strength is his….strength. When he plays the right way, he takes guys wide and uses his monstrous legs to protect the puck down low. But he seemed out of shape and too weak away from the puck this year. I’ve never seen him fall as much as he did this season. And if Anisimov is not going to use his 6’4″ frame in this way, he needs to produce more. I could see one or both as part of a deal.

    Kreider showed a lot of puck protection and comfort within tight, physical spaces. I think that’s part of what made his transition so smooth. He seemed to feed off of contact when he had the puck. But I agree, they need more of this.

    I will say, Stepan looked a little stronger towards the end of the year and the playoffs. But he’ll obviously never be that type of player. My choice: Getzlaf.

    • Agreed. Dubi has that ability to fight off checks, he’s just missing the second part of the equation, which is finishing the play.

      Arty is skin and bones. The kid needs to beef up and be much stronger on the puck. He is too easily knocked off the puck and his head is always down.

      Stepan certainly improved in this regard, but he still needs to take another step forward. Hopefully his work ethic & gene pool are just as strong as all of his other tools.

    • Getzlaf??? Are you comparing ? Or saying we should go after him? He doesnt become a UFAuntill next season.

  • On the surface it is easy to look at not signing Jagr as a wasted opportunity. Quality player, size…good character, fun guy and all the rest. But when I look deeper I see that his age might have been the biggest factor of all for a good reason. Jagr would have attracted center attention and it would have made drama in blowing up the plan we are in. Jagr is Blaah blaah blaah…our window of opportunity is closing blah blah blah.
    Not even Jagr as likable and skilled as he is is worth that kind of pressure and thought. The plan in place is Masterful, well thought out and purpose driven. Just a look at the McIlrath pick demonstrates what I am saying. For those crying Fowler, you are short sighted.
    A schultz signing, a good pick in the 1st and 2nd rounds and a Getzlaf signing in 13 is all we need. Bobby Ryan would be nice but not at the cost. Nash, are you kidding me? But Ryan clowe or David Backes….puts a smile on my face. Here is the thing about these players…They are not worth a 4 for 1 type trade. If that is the case then so is Marc Staal, Girardi, McDonagh, Kreider, Callahan and Stepan. We can not over value other people players and under value our own players.

  • Yes, Jagr is blessed with size and skill. But you don’t need size to be successful. Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Giroux and even Crosby are 6 ft or under and under 200lb. Stamkos, Tavares and Sedins are 6’1” and under 200lb. For every Jagr and Kovalchuk you have 10 smaller guys that are as successful or better.

  • Looking into Jags while Gaborik is out wouldnt be such a bad thing right now. The worse thing that can happen is we push everyone down a spot when he comes back Giving you a right side of Gabs, Jags and Cally.

    As for Size. Decent size is available this July. At what should be a fair price.

    Dustin Penner LW 6’4 242

    Jarret Stoll C 6’1 213 helps on PK and faceoffs

    Paul Gaustad C 6’5 212

    Taylor Pyatt LW/RW 6’4 228

    These guys can all help this team and the first two are on a team that has to resign alot of players.

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