MONDAY BUZZ COLUMN
Where do you suppose Sidney Crosby will be in 2031?
Will he still be playing in the NHL at 44 like Jaromir Jagr?
Think he’’ll score 25 or more goals at that age?
Jagr, who may be the most amazing major pro athlete in North America right now, scored his 25th in the Florida Panthers’ win over Tampa Bay Saturday night.
It’s hard to imagine Crosby saying he’d like to play another 15 years, but 15 years ago Jagr probably didn’t imagine himself still playing in 2016.
Jagr is still playing because he’s still having fun. Except for his last year or two with the Penguins, Jagr has always looked like a kid who’s really enjoying his time on the ice.
But, what is the baseball equivalent of a 44 year-old hockey player scoring 25 goals? Let’s not count Barry Bonds because of the juice.
And it’s not just the raw numbers, when Jagr is taking a shift, he’s often the best player on the ice. And Jagr seems to have every intention of playing again next season.
And why not?
He’s playing for a team that is leading it’s division in a place where old people with sore bones go to get re-energized.
And that brings us to another question.
Who is the second best player in Penguins history?
Because of what Jagr is doing at 44 and because of Sidney Crosby’s excruciatingly slow start to this season, Jagr, around December and January, was probably the consensus Number 2 All Time behind Mario Lemieux among the media and fans.
Obviously a good case could be made for Jagr and no sane person would predict that any other player could do what he’s still doing at his age.
Crosby played in his 700th game Saturday afternoon. He had scored 334 goals and had 596 assists going into Sunday’s game with the Rangers, where he scored a goal.
After 700 games, Jaromir Jagr had 377 goals and 553 assists.
That’s 930 points.
Crosby scored his 931st point against the Rangers Sunday in his 701st game.
Yep, after 700 games Crosby and Jagr had exactly the same number of points.
There are plenty of variables. Jagr played with a lot more Hall of Fame talent than Crosby, although Malkin and Letang aren’t too shabby.
Jagr played in an era when goaltenders didn’t dress like the Michelin man and the game was much more wide open. To be fair, he also had to suffer through the late 90s when the clutching, grabbing and stupidity convinced Mario Lemieux it was time to quit and he’s playing now when the clutching, grabbing and stupidity have come back strong.
So who’s number two?
Would you settle for a tie? I mean, come on, they had the exact same point totals after 700 games.
It’s hard to imagine Crosby sticking around long enough to come close to Jagr on the all time scoring list, where Jagr is in third place, 27 points behind Mark Messier.
If you have to be told who’s first, you stopped reading this column a long time ago.
So, Jagr would only get the edge because of longevity but, since Crosby is one of those from-another-planet kind of guys, you really can’t be sure that he won’t decide to play into his forties.
Jagr may be the Penguins second best player ever but it’s a long, long way from a slam dunk. And Sid is still a kid.
— Imagine if the lockout that produced a salary cap in the NHL before the 2005 season had taken place in 1999 or 2000. Would Jagr still be a Penguin?
I’d say probably, but the Penguins probably wouldn’t have won the Sidney Crosby lottery.
Local hockey fans are pretty lucky to have had three of the best players ever to lace on skates playing here for what will probably amount to 40 years.
-The Pirates and Major League Baseball are getting exactly what they deserve for opening day this Sunday. The forecast calls for a high of 40. That’s what you’re asking for when you open on April 3rd in Pittsburgh.
-I wonder how Roberto Clemente would have felt about a Major League team playing in Havana with the dictator and the president doing the wave together.