From Bryan Trottier’s 1980 New York Islanders to Jon Merrill on last year’s Montreal Canadiens, the last 41 Stanley Cup Finals have featured, at least, one player who suited up alongside Jaromir Jagr over his National Hockey League career.
The New York Rangers’ loss in the Eastern Conference Final to the Tampa Bay Lightning means that streak will end officially on Wednesday night, as neither the Lightning nor Colorado Avalanche rosters contain anyone who played in the NHL alongside Jagr.
An incredible feat, considering Jagr didn’t debut in the NHL until the 1990-91 season, and only appeared in three Stanley Cup Finals - 1991 and 1992 with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and 2013 with the Boston Bruins.
But, indeed, Trottier, who was with the Penguins in Jagr’s infancy with that team, and Mark Messier, who was a fellow Rangers forward for part of the 2003-04 season, appeared in nine-of-11 Stanley Cup Finals from 1979-80 to 1989-90, with future Penguins teammates Joe Mullen and Jiri Hrdina – who appeared with the Calgary Flames in the 1986 and 1989 Stanley Cup Final, respectively – filling in the gap.
Jagr played in the NHL from 1990 to 2008 before returning to Europe to play in the Kontinental Hockey League. However, the native of Czechia returned again to North American in 2011, and wrapped up his NHL time with the Flames during the 2017-18 season.
The 50-year-old was still active this past season, playing back at home overseas for the Kladno team he is a part owner of.
There was a chance when the Conference Finals began for both Stanley Cup Finalists to contain a former Jagr teammate. However, the Edmonton Oilers’ loss to Colorado eliminated goalie Mike Smith – who was a teammate of Jagr’s in Calgary – and the Rangers’ potential representative was forward Greg McKegg, who played with Jagr from 2015-17 with the Florida Panthers.
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.
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