Jaromir Jagr said that this was the toughest player he ever faced, and it’s not who you think it is

Jaromir Jagr joined the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early 90s with high expectations. He was just a kid with a mullet from Czech, who didn’t speak any English, but who was a great skater.

Penguins believed in him, and they immediately understood that there was something special about him and how right they were. Jagr won the Stanley Cup in his only second year in the NHL, scoring 24 points in 21 games in the playoffs.

Source: Bildbyran

Jagr was a superstar already, and it was only the beginning. Over the years, Jagr grew to be an icon in Pittsburgh, and he was even nicknamed Mario Jr, after cult hero Mario Lemieux. Jaromir Jagr stayed with the Pens until 2001 when he signed a record-breaking contract with the Washington Capitals.

Aside from three years in the KHL, Jagr remained in the NHL until 2018, when he left to play in Czech for Kladno, where he’s the owner and still plays hockey. Jaromir Jagr is considered one of the best players of all time, and during his years in hockey, he’s played against many great players.

Jagr has always said that Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux are the two best players in history.

But when he’s named his toughest NHL opponents, he’s also brought up a more unexpected name. 

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As it turns out, Jagr named Hal Gill one of the toughest defensemen he ever faced. Gill wasn’t the biggest star in the league and barely noticed in the offensive plays.

But as he stood 6-foot-7 and weighed 243 pounds, he was one of the biggest.

And that was his secret to contain Jagr.

“The thing is he uses his size so well and he waits for someone to try to compete against his size and then he hits you with his skills,” Gill said per NHL.com back in 2016. “There’s guys that have his size and there’s guys that have his skill, but there’s not too many that have the size and skill to put it together.

“When I was playing against him, I was always careful to try not to commit too much. The second he feels like you’ve overcommitted, he’ll take advantage of you. At the same time, you can’t give him too much space, so it becomes a tough task.”

Jaromir Jagr. Source: Getty Images

The respect was mutual. Gill said that Jagr was nearly impossible to take down.

”Strength-wise, there’s no one better on their edges, leaning, using his body to gain space. When I knocked him down, I knew he fell on purpose, because no one knocks him down. We had a lot of battles, and I’m sure he made me look like a fool, but I try to black that out and get back at it,” he told Sportsnet. 

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