Since Jaromir Jagr returned to the NHL in 2011-12, there have been many reports and stories of his influence on young players and about his tireless work ethic.
His midnight practice sessions, the ankle weights, making impressions on star players like Claude Giroux and Jamie Benn.
On Thursday, Florida Panthers GM Dale Tallon confirmed as much.
Tallon was on Prime Time Sports with Bob McCown to talk about how his most influential player is 43 years old while his best is just 20.
“He’s been fabulous,” Tallon said of Jagr. “Our young guys are really following (his lead) in conditioning and training and preparation. It’s been a real positive for all of us.”
Jagr leads a young Panthers team with 12 points in 13 games with 22-year-old Vincent Trochek just behind at 11 points. Tallon said the team is best when they’re healthy. Aleksander Barkov, the second overall pick in the 2013 draft and the player Tallon pegged as his best, has played in just seven games but has six points.
“Our players kind of hang around (Jagr),” Tallon continued. “He’s not been aggressive (in mentoring). It’s not like he’s in their face all day long trying to change them. It’s just been a natural progression.”
The Panthers are led by Jagr who sets an example, but their future is in their draft picks and youth – Jonathan Huberdeau, Nick Bjugstad and Aaron Ekblad all have high ceilings they can perhaps reach sooner watching the day-to-day routine of the ageless Jagr.
“He goes (to the practice rink) whenever he wants,” Tallon said, confirming that Jagr indeed has the actual keys to the rink itself. “Our strength and conditioning coach is on 24-hour alert.
“He’s got a good sense of humour, he’s really smart – worldly. He knows what’s going on and has an opinion. He likes to stir the pot a little bit too. I just like being around him.”
But it’s not just the young guys with their eyes on the future Hall of Famer. Jagr knows a young, generational talent when he sees one.
Florida is 6-6-3 and sits in the middle of the tight Atlantic Division – outside of the Montreal Canadiens who hold an 11-point lead over the second-place Detroit Red Wings.