Playing in the NHL past 40 years of age is not typical. Not only because the body becomes exhausted easier, but also because it is more difficult to find a suitor. However, for two NHL overagers, 40 seemed a small obstacle. After having looked at a comparison of Leafs centres, today we review two of the most noteworthy NHL overagers: Gordie Howe vs Jaromir Jagr is here.
The Battle of NHL Overagers
Length of Careers
The recently deceased Gordie Howe played for 26 seasons in the NHL and is considered one of the greatest hockey players of all time. In fact, he was given the nickname “Mr. Hockey”, and played longer than any other player in NHL history.
He started his career in the 1946-47 season with the Detroit Red Wings. He left the league in 1970-71 for retirement, only to return in 1973-74 with the Houston Aeros in the WHA to play with his sons Mark and Marty.
He came back to the NHL in 1979-80 when the New England Whalers (became the Hartford Whalers in the expansion) joined the NHL, and with them he played with his sons for the first time in the NHL.
Jaromir Jagr was drafted fifth overall in the 1990 NHL draft. Though he was only drafted fifth by the Pittsburgh Penguins, he was seen by most, if not all, teams as the best player in the draft. Before the draft he stated that he did not want to play in the NHL, which resulted in the other four teams not picking him. But when Pittsburgh approached him to see if he would play for them, he said he would because he idolized Penguins captain Mario Lemieux and wanted to play with him.
Jagr has played for 23 seasons in the NHL, with the most recent being with the Florida Panthers in the 2016-17 season.
Jagr is seen as the only player, as of now, who could possibly break Gordie Howe’s record of most seasons played in the NHL (26).
In Howe’s first season with the Detroit Red Wings he produced 22 points (7 goals and 15 assists) in 58 games.
While those numbers aren’t seen as outstanding, for an 18-year-old they are very respectable.
In the 1950-51 season he accomplished more than a point per game ratio with 86 points (43 goals and 43 assists) in 70 games. In that same season he received his first of six Art Ross Trophies (awarded to the player who leads the NHL in points during the season).
In the 1968-69 season Howe reached the 100-point milestone for the first time in his career (23 seasons into his career).
Known for his gritty playing style, the term “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” is given to a player who accumulates a goal, an assist, and a fight in the same game.
Howe finished with 801 goals and 1049 assists for a total of 1850 points in 1767 games. That was more than any other player until Wayne Gretzky surpassed him.
Jaromir Jagr entered the NHL during the 1990-91 and produced 57 points (27 goals and 30 assists) in 80 games.
Using his big frame and incredible strength, defenders had a hard time getting the puck away from him. He proved his potential in the 1995-96 season when he produced an outstanding 149 points (62 goals and 87 assists) in 82 games—the most he produced in a season during his career.
Jagr won five Art Ross Trophies, and in his first two seasons in the NHL, he won the Stanley Cup. He currently has 765 goals, 1149 assists for a total of 1914 points in 1711 games. His 1914 points are second in NHL history behind only Wayne Gretzky.
The question now is, who is the greater overager?
While Howe was an incredible player and the oldest to play in the NHL, Jagr has him beat statistically. At least as of this past season, he has more points in fewer games with the chance to add to his totals. Howe may have had more goals, but Jagr has a chance to surpass him in that category as well.
Granted, the longer Jagr plays the more his points per game total will drop.
Any time you compare players cross-generationally, there are always nuances in the game that affect statistics. The difference between the two is barely visible, and certainly an argument can be made for Mr. Hockey as well. Both players are legends of the game who achieved into their 40s.
If Gordie Howe could play in a hockey game at 69 years old, then nobody should have an excuse to not partake in an activity.
While you’re here you should check out my last article where I compared Mats Sundin and Auston Matthews.
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