Jaromir Jagr's eventful tenure with the New York Rangers

One of the most underrated players and careers in Ranger history belongs to Jaromir Jagr. What he did for this organization is often forgotten.

Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers - Game Three
Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers - Game Three / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages
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Many newer fans will know the name Jaromir Jagr and note his age and that he is still playing. While that part of the Czech forward's career is certainly remarkable, he plays a large part closer to home here in the greatest city in the world. For those who may not remember or are new to hockey and don't know much about the history of the game, Jaromir Jagr was a New York Ranger many years ago. Not only was he a Ranger, but he was arguably the most important member of the New York Rangers in the early salary cap era.

To properly explain this, we need to go back long before the years Jagr spent in New York. Jagr was a rookie in 1991 on the Pittsburgh Penguins, As a young player breaking into the league, he didn't have much success. He only won two Stanley Cups in his first two years in the league, helping the Pittsburgh Penguins win back-to-back championships in the early 1990s, but that did not last forever. He would eventually end up in Washington with the Capitals in a spell that didn't work well for either the player or the hockey club.

So, in 2003, the Rangers traded Anson Carter to the Capitals for the future Hockey Hall of Famer. In case you're wondering if that is the same Anson Carter who works as an analyst for ESPN on national broadcasts, yes, it is. But that is a conversation for another day, as we are here to discuss Jagr's tenure in New York.

The second half of the 2003-04 season was something the Rangers had not had in a long time. While Jagr had found success early in his career, the Rangers did the opposite. After winning the Stanley Cup in 1994, the Blueshirts started the steady decline into the doldrums of the NHL and became mired in mediocrity trying to buy championships. Fans were upset with what was becoming a dark age for the organization. Jagr only played 31 games with the Rangers that season but had 15 goals and 14 assists. In the trap era, this was miraculous.

The 2004-05 season was lost to the lockout that brought around the salary cap, so we move into the 2005-06 season and everything around the league has changed. Size and physicality have become less of a factor, with the new way to win being speed and youth. It went completely against conventional hockey as a strange NHL season began. As pigs flew and the Carolina Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup, Jagr put up a casual 54 goals and 69 assists for 123 points. That won him the Ted Lindsey as league MVP as voted by the players.

What that Jagr season also did, which a lot of people forget, is that he led the Rangers back into the playoffs after struggling. That season let a lot of the fanbase that had left the sport because of the inability to succeed by the Blueshirts back to the Garden. He reignited the love of the fanbase singlehandedly. Remember, he had 123 points. The next closest guy was Michael Nylander with 79. Yes, the father of William and Alexander Nylander. Jagr brought the expectations back to New York.

You may be wondering, "Why are you talking about this?" Many people either don't remember or underrate Jagr's time in New York. Or there is still disdain for the player because he left the Rangers to go and play in Europe for three years. Some people still have hard feelings about that. He was such an important part of the Rangers setting the standard they did at the time. Between him, some young Swedish netminder they picked in the seventh round named Henrik Lundqvist, and the fans pouring back into the Garden, New York's slightly fading love for this beautiful game was stronger than ever.