Jaromir Jagr isn’t precisely known as the soft guy. During his years in the NHL – there were many – it wasn’t often he stood over games because of injury, and he wasn’t the guy who whined without reason.
But during his early years in the league, in the early 90s, the pressure on him was high. Luckily for Jagr, he had Badger Bob Johnson as a coach. He was an optimistic coach who barely ever lost his temperament and never yelled at his player. That was his only rule. But one time, he broke it, and Jaromir Jagr was the reason for it.
Johnson had been telling Jagr, just 18-year-old at the time, to stop skating with his head down. Johnson knew he would get punched, and during a game in December 1990, the hit came. Jagr got hammered by a hit, and Johnson started yelling. And Jaromir Jagr? He started crying. Phil Bourque was Jagr’s teammate at the time.
“I just kept saying, ‘It’ll be OK, Jags,'” Bourque said to The Athletic. “I was trying to comfort him. He wasn’t just crying. He was literally sobbing. He couldn’t breathe. And you have to remember, we had a team of alpha males. Nothing but alpha males.”
One of them was Kevin Stevens, and that time, when Jagr cried on the bench, he reacted just as everyone would’ve expected.
“Bourquey,” Stevens yelled. “Is he crying? He better not be fucking crying.”
Borque tried to calm Kevin Stevens down, but it didn’t help.
“I told Artie to stop yelling,” Bourque said with a laugh. “It wasn’t helping. He started crying harder.”
Jaromir Jagr overcame the yelling and the crying, and during his debut year in the NHL, he scored 27 goals and 30 assists. When he left the league, almost 30 years later, he did it as one of the greatest ever.