For first time in 42 seasons, Jaromir Jagr won't have a former teammate playing in Stanley Cup Finals


From Bryan Trottier’s 1980 Islanders to Jon Merrill on last year’s Lightning, the last 41 Stanley Cup Finals have featured at least one player who suited up alongside Jaromir Jagr in his NHL career.

The Rangers’ loss in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Lightning means that streak will end officially Wednesday night, as neither the 2021-22 Lightning nor Colorado Avalanche rosters contain anyone who played in the NHL alongside Jagr, as Merrill is now in Minnesota.

An incredible feat considering Jagr didn’t debut in the NHL until the 1990-91 season, and only appeared in three Cup Finals, 1991 and ’92 as a Penguin, and 2013 as a Bruin. But, indeed, as the graphic below shows, Trottier, who was a Penguin in Jagr’s infancy with that team, and Mark Messier, who was a fellow Ranger for part of 2003-04, appeared in nine of 11 Cup Finals from 1979-80 to 1989-90, with future Penguins teammates Joe Mullen and Jiri Hrdina – who appeared as Flames in the 1986 and 1989 Cup Finals, respectively – filling in the gap.

Jagr played in the NHL from 1990-91 to 2007-08, then returned from 2011-12 to 2017-18, and was still active this season overseas at age 50, playing once again for the Kladno team he is a part owner of in the Czech Republic.

There was a chance when the conference finals began for both Cup Finalists to contain a former Jagr teammate, but the Oilers’ loss to Colorado eliminated goalie Mike Smith – who was a teammate of Jagr’s in Calgary in 2017-18 – and the Rangers’ potential representative was forward Greg McKegg, who played 43 games for the Blueshirts this year and played with Jagr with the Panthers from 2015-17.

The streak wasn’t going to last forever, but even as retroactive as it turned out to be, 41 years is a damn long time – and let’s be fair: it’s entirely possible, given Jagr just completed his 34th season of professional hockey, that he might make it to 41 himself.

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroWFAN

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