2/12/18 – Jamie Goligoski

I’ve only ever rooted against one player wearing a Dallas Stars jersey. Sean Avery was gross the minute the late Ambassador of Fun made the deal happen for his former roommate.

I tend to not really root against any players anymore. I think even now being #Old and #Enlightened I wouldn’t even really root against Avery. I wouldn’t like him, but actively rooting against someone takes a lot of energy I can’t really spare any more with the mental and physical aches and pains of approaching middle age.

Jamie Oleksiak is no different. I never rooted against him. If he was successful it made the Stars successful and I like good hockey. Now, I DID root against his most fervent supporters who somehow couldn’t see him for what he was.

Did I root against him though? Never.

A Venn diagram of his supporters and those who bagged on John Klingberg was a circle. It drove me crazy in the way every Eric Nystrom goal made the ticking time bomb of his inevitable return to earth that more grizzly when it eventually exploded.

I didn’t get to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins fly (waddle?) into the American Airlines Center for their match up with the Stars live on Friday night for the “Return of the Rig” or whatever it was called. As with most things, I got to live vicariously through Twitter until recently.

I stumbled across this and cringed:

I came across this and laughed:

This made me laugh even more:

Despite all of the laughter and merriment, despite all of the schadenfreude, and despite the Stars eventually winning 4-3, Oleksiak was simply there. He merely existed in a universe with much bigger players who made much bigger impacts. You barely noticed him if you watched the game which is probably the best you can hope from him consistently.

Oleksiak was brutal at times for the Stars. Last season and the 21 games he spent in Dallas during the 2018 season he was just kind of there. He hovered around 50% Corsi, Fenwick, Shots, and Scoring Chance percentages while not producing much offense at all with 26 points in a career 162 games.

OleksiakSA

The snippet above from www.hockeyviz.com shows that defensively there are still a lot of chances coming from in close with Oleksiak on the ice. He’s just there taking up space.

And you know, there’s value in that. The NHL needs guys at the bottom of the roster. He was really bad early on, and developed into a back of the roster player. The outrage and fanfare over Oleksiak is overblown either way. He got treated like Alex Goligoski and John Klingberg after a rough start to his career, but at this point being Mad Online about him is a waste of energy.

Oleksiak may turn out to be a useful addition for the Penguins. I wish him nothing but the best. Sidney Crosby may be the best thing to ever happen for his career given that he’s humming along at 56% Corsi when on the ice with him (46% without). He hit what always seemed like the most reasonable ceiling he would hit, and then moved on. The nature of the draft being what it is, Oleksiak closed his story in Dallas as a successful pick.

Hey, click these

2/12/18 – Team USA Men Would Have Been Really Good
2/6/18 – Jaromir Jagr and Tom Brady
2/6/18 – .insert(“Really Bad Chess Pun”);
2/5/18 – Mooterart From Around the Internet
2/5/18 – Tyler Seguin’s 25th goal

2/6/18 – Jaromir Jagr and Tom Brady

He had 34 games, 14 goals, 12 assists, and 20 penalty minutes as a Dallas Star. That’s it. Out of 1733 games, 766 goals, 1155 assists, and 1167 penalty minutes the Stars career of the legendary Jaromir Jagr is a gust of wind after a hurricane.

It feels like it was more significant than that. Jaromir Jagr is one of those names that brings gravitas with it. His name alone just sounds like hockey. It rolls off the tongue with alliterative perfection. The cult of personality he brought made hockey fun. The stories about his workout habits added to his legacy. The mullet. The Travelling Jagrs. Adding him to a Stars team coming out of bankruptcy hell under Tom Gaglardi felt meaningful.

In the end the Stars turned Jagr into a first round pick that became Jason Dickinson which is likely to be where most of the significance of the Jagr in Dallas tenure comes from. Dickinson shows flashes and has the statistical profile to suggest he’s going to be a quality NHLer.

Can we take a moment to appreciate the Pittsburgh Penguins teams he was a part of early in his career? In his rookie season Jagr was teammates with Hall of Famers Mario Lemieux, Ron Francis, Paul Coffey, Larry Murphy, Mark Recchi, Bryan Trottier, and Joe Mullen. It’s almost insulting to just call these guys Hall of Famers.

He ended up playing with Eric Lindros, Luc Robitaille, Brian Leetch, Adam Oates, Mark Messier, Brendan Shanahan, Henrik Lundqvist, Sergei Zubov, Peter Bondra, Sergei Gonchar, Markus Naslund, Alex Kovalev, Jamie Benn, and numerous other great players throughout his career. He’s seen everything at this point.

Watching the Super Bowl made me think more about Jagr. He and Tom Brady are approximate equals in their sports. Brady, even though he lost, was still Brady in the Super Bowl at 40 years old. Barring something unforeseen he’s going to go out leaving his fans with a final image that looks close to peak Brady. Seeing Jagr limp out of the NHL, probably for good, with his 20th franchise (estimated) sucks.

I promise this isn’t about to turn into a #PleaseLikeMySport story.

I think it goes to show you how physically difficult playing in the NHL is compared to being an NFL quarterback. Brady does get hit sometimes. His main job is to maintain his arm strength enough to let the football IQ he has developed over 30 whatever years to shine through. I can’t stress enough that I’m not minimizing what he has been able to do. It’s immensely impressive.

We know the reputation Jagr has for fitness. Sure, he isn’t on the TB12 athletic scientology plan. He has to maintain his legs. He has to be able to skate well enough to keep up with younger and younger players who keep skating at higher and higher levels. Can you even imagine Jagr in a straight race with Connor McDavid? It would be embarrassing. He has to be able to take a more consistent physical toll and his body has to respond faster to the more rigorous demands of an NHL schedule.

So I watched the Super Bowl both impressed with Brady and thinking about how impressed I am with Jagr despite both players being at different points in their careers. I’m 32 and my knee hurts walking up the stairs. Brady keeps doing his thing, and despite time catching up with him Jagr continued to be a useful NHL player into his mid-40’s.

He’s going to go down as one of the 5-10 greatest players in league history. There will always be a legit Stars 68 Jagr jersey. We were fortunate enough to get to see greatness up close and personal, old greatness but greatness nonetheless, for a handful of games. His tenure with the Stars may ultimately be meaningless, but anyone who got to experience those few games will remember them.

Hey, click these

2/6/18 – .insert(“Really Bad Chess Pun”);
2/5/18 – Mooterart From Around the Internet
2/5/18 – Tyler Seguin’s 25th goal
2/4/18 – A Hockey Rink is a Hockey Rink and a Game is a Game
2/3/18 – The Conservative NHL and Mooterus Culture