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Penguins Finally Retire the Jersey of Most Productive European Player in NHL History

It wasn’t exactly a night to remember on the ice for the Pittsburgh Penguins. In came the rebuilding Los Angeles Kings, looking to kick off their East Coast road trip on a high, and managed to steal the night just in time to walk away with the points. The home side went 1-0 up in the first, but a two goals from Adrian Kempe in the third cut short any hopes of a rare home win for the Penguins.

However, away from the ice, it was all celebrations as a star of the NHL returned to be honored by the franchise he started his illustrious career and found the glut of his success. Finally, the team retired the famous number 68, sending the black-and-yellow jersey to the rafters to hail the great Jaromír Jágr.

A legend of the game

Born in Czechia in 1972, Jaromír Jágr made his way to the NHL as the fifth overall pick in the 1990 draft. Picked by the Penguins, he’d debut that season and open his illustrious catalog with 27 goals and 57 points in 80 regular season games. He made an immediate impact en route to becoming a pop-culture icon, as The Athletic details.

The very next season, the young European winger would net his first Stanley Cup win, followed by another in 1992. In the end, Jágr played 11 seasons for the Penguins before bouncing around to the Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils, Florida Panthers, and Calgary Flames.

He ended his NHL career with 1,921 points in 1,733 regular season games with an additional 201 points in 208 games during the postseason, finishing second only to Wayne Gretzky for career regular-season points and third for career points including postseason scoring. The most productive European player to ever grace the NHL is famous far beyond the rink.

He’s an icon of 90s pop culture, the mullet is known far and wide, and he even has his own official online slot, which was released in 2019. At several of the sites that have earned a five-star review from BonusFinder Canada, Jágr’s Super Slot remains a hot pick. The more open bonuses, like deposit-match promos, can even be used to experience the Czech legend’s own game.

Jersey to the rafters for a still-active star

The skater with the second-most points in NHL history now has his number retired and in the rafters. The ‘Celebrate 68’ day held at PPG Paints Arena saw the banner get raised before a rowdy crowd while Sidney Crosby, Kris Letang, and Evgeni Malkin all skated out for warm-ups with No. 68 jerseys and mullet wigs.

Somewhat strangely, the ceremony wasn’t for a retired player. Jágr continues to play the occasional game for his team in Czechia. As the owner and biggest star on the Rytíři Kladno roster, he’s now in his 36th professional season of play, and he’s still adding points to his record.

In the 2023/24 season so far, he’s collected four assists in 15 games. Part of the reason he continues to play is to uphold the marketability of the club and its appeal to sponsors. Evidently, Jágr remains a superstar of hockey, and even though he hasn’t been in the NHL for a while, he’s still incredibly popular with fans in North America.

Jaromír Jágr has now joined just two other Penguins stars with retired jersey numbers (Michel Briere and Mario Lemieux), and his playing career isn’t even done yet. He may even come back to Pittsburgh in a front-office role in the future.

Igor Burdetskiy

Igor Burdetskiy

Founder, Editor-in-Chief, & CEO at Hooked on Hockey Magazine
I grew up playing Ball and Roller Hockey day and night somewhat religiously throughout elementary and middle school. The two don't compare though when I lace up the skates and hit the ice. I live and breathe hockey beyond the perspective of "it's just a game" and I will gladly talk hockey for hours with anyone. Hockey is more than just a lifestyle, it's a culture of passionate people who make memories every time the puck is dropped. Hockey has not only helped me get through some of the hardest times in life but has created some of the best memories to date. Want to talk hockey with me? Shoot me an email: iburdetskiy@hookedonhockey.com and let's talk some hockey!
Igor Burdetskiy
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