Jaromir Jagr was always a special player. On the ice, he was one of a kind. A fantastic player who could score from just about everywhere and anytime. He had a unique hockey IQ and was always two steps ahead of his opponents.
But if he was one of a kind on the ice, it can’t even compare to how unique he was off the ice. Jagr could go through eight pairs of skates before a game. He always tested the ice one hour before a game, so he could get his skates sharpened just the way he liked for that special occasion.
He cut potatoes before a game and put the slices on his knees to help with inflammation. He had the longest stick his teammates ever saw. He had his own locker room key so he could practice during weird hours. Why? Because he only slept for four hours at a time.
“He would just change his mind a lot, but he was often sticking with what worked for him, and I don’t mind that,” Mark DePasquale told Sportsnet.
Pasquale is the equipment manager for the Calgary Flames, Jagr’s final club, before heading back to Czechia after an amazing NHL career. According to him, Jagr also had something really special going on with his gloves.
“He had a cross that he had blessed by the Pope, so every time he changed gloves, I’d have to cut that cross out of the gloves and sew them into the new gloves.
“That helped him feel protected.”
Mikael Backlund played with the Flames during the half-year Jagr was there, and he still remembers it like it was yesterday.
“You heard he was different, and that he has a few things going for himself, but you had so much respect for him,” said Backlund.
“He’s an icon for the hockey world, having played for so long, and was such a great player.
“It was surreal he was here.”