We Hardly Knew Ye, NHL ’94 Rosters

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Many years ago in another blogging lifestyle, I was bored and started to wonder about the classics. Not music, but a video game that took up much of my youth– NHL ’94. Therefore, I went to NHL94.com and luckily, they had a lot of resources I needed– though they didn’t have a list of still active players. So, I decided to do what any sane person would do and that was print out the roster sheets and go one-by-one about who was still around and where they were.

For a time, I kept up with it, making sure to denote when guys were retiring and update where they were going to when they did move around. Then I stopped for a bit and here I am again. Hell, I was able to interview Ron Barr, the face of EA Sports’ newsdesk and write about the top ten things I loved about NHL ’94 thanks to Greg Wyshynski when he was at Puck Daddy.

Why am I bringing this up?? Well, with Jaromir Jagr seemingly leaving the NHL forever– he’s the last one to keep playing in the NHL from NHL ’94 and it’s the end of an era for a lot of people. Though, earlier this year I said Jagr probably should have hung them up before the season rather than have a go at it, but that’s neither here nor there.

Luckily, while all the players of NHL94 are retired, the game lives on with the NHL94.com guys and the tournaments they put on around North American (and I think the world, but don’t know).

Time to Let Jaromir Go

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Jaromir Jagr is the hockey equivalent to a professional wrestler who doesn’t know when to retire.

That’s where I see him now as he’s trying his best to get signed to an NHL squad this year, going out of his way to make some comical videos that get to the masses and make them feel sorry for the 45-year-old veteran for not having a contract in the NHL or going elsewhere to get a contract to play hockey. With the reports of his decision day being October 5th, it doesn’t really bode well for Jagr to return to the NHL full-time, at least for right now. Considering camps are in full swing and that date is a couple days after the NHL puck-drop on the season– I doubt he would get signed to an NHL club if that was the case

I get that people want to hold onto that nostalgia. I mean, hell– he’s the last of the NHL94 guys still playing and that will kill a lot of people’s childhood. But, like most things– they have to come to an end some time. If not now, it’ll be down the road as we all can’t hold onto things forever. You have to let them go and remember the joy they brought to you when you had them.

While I can understand why he wouldn’t want to go on a PTO contract– it’s not really a matter of signing him because team’s don’t know what he’s about– which is what he told a reporter; but it’s a matter of trying him out to see if he fits into the team scheme. In Florida, he was able to be a leader on a young team, have a more possession style of play, and not have to worry about paying taxes…which I’m sure has no bearing on contracts he’s been presented so far.

The whole deal with the Florida Everblades was a fun marketing thing, but it wasn’t a serious consideration for Jagr. May have been for the ECHL and the Everblades, but not for the man himself. If Jagr wanted to play in the minor leagues, he would have signed on with someone already. He hasn’t played there before, doubt he’ll be playing there now.

Also, with this– he can play one last time with the Czech Republic at the Olympics…if they want him to. I mean, why not– he already broke his international retirement once to play in the Worlds— why not have him jack a spot on the Olympic roster for old-time sake. Hell, call up Dominik Hasek to see what he’s doing, get the whole 1998 squad back together.

It’s great he still has a passion for the game, but maybe it’s time to step aside from the big stage for a bit and stay in hockey in another capacity. He still owns his own team in the Czech Republic, so he won’t be completely detached from the game– plus he could pull a Roger Dorn and activate himself as he sees fit.

Yet, the point is this…we’re going to have to say goodbye to Jagr the same way we said goodbye to Teemu Selanne. Sure, he may be beloved by some, but it’s better to have him end the career, remember the good times he had, the highlights we saw, and the personality throughout the years he gave us than to see a broken man in the downside of his 40s struggle through the slog of the NHL schedule.

Jaromir, the Everblades, and the Money of Minor League Hockey

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With Jaromir Jagr still unsigned, which some people think is odd for a 45-year-old to be unsigned at this point in the free agency period, the shenanigans have begun. The Florida Everblades of the ECHL have made the first pitch to keep Jagr in North America and keep him in Florida, as well.

This is a kind of minor league gimmick we need, as the last time this has happened– I think– is when the Bakersfield Condors offered a contract to Justin Bieber. Sure, it won’t work, but to get the team some press (especially in the summer months) is a pretty smart marketing idea. Plus, it goes with a trend of Jagr signing in areas that are tax-free places to play during the season.

But….what if it did work?? What if Jagr goes, “You know….the hell with it, I’ll play in the ECHL, stay in America with my adoring fans, and really shove it up the asses of the NHL people who passed me by.” It would be something Jagr has never done, playing in the minors, and it could be something he would want to put on his bucket list and check off…but maybe a Spengler Cup would be one, as well, but that’d require him to go back to Europe for that.

Look, it’s the 30th season of the ECHL, which is a solid milestone for the AA-level league. You’d have to think that they would love to have someone like Jagr in their league for this noteworthy year. Yet, is there anything the league or the Everblades can do to get this done without violating the salary cap. For 2016-17, the ECHL salary cap was $12,600 with a rookie minimum of $445 and returning player minimum of $500. Some elite veteran players can make north of $1,000, but that comes at the expense of their teammates’ wallet.

Plus, you can’t expect the ECHL as a league to help out with Jagr’s contract when other teams don’t get afforded the same ability to get a superstar player or have help from the league to have and keep an elite player on their roster. You can’t expect the league to make an exceptional player clause for every team like the MLS does for one player to not have their salary against the salary cap.

Or can they?? It’s a slippery slope, especially for a league with a lot of independent owners with little to no NHL support coming back the other way…but it’s an interesting concept for a minor league to do in order to attract some players that may have some contract situations in the NHL or AHL or even over in Europe. Yet, you look at the IHL and what had happened to some teams who went the route of signing hold-out NHL talent– and it didn’t end well.

Not only that, but you can’t blame Jagr for balking at this, especially since he still believe he has more value than a minor league contract (no offense) and that he could just go over to the Czech Republic and play for the team he owns and get plenty of bank for returning and getting plenty of the gate receipts that go with it.

All of this depends on what Jagr wants to do with his career, what the ECHL wants to do for publicity, and what people want to do with their dollars should he do something like travel around the bus leagues and see cities he’s only flew over in charter flights.