Ice hockey legend Jaromír Jágr celebrates his 49th birthday: Graduation at the age of 30, but 766 goals scored at NHL!
The hockey superstar joined the NHL at just 18 years old. He could barely speak English and he was homesick. In the end, he spent 27 years overseas, scoring 766 goals during his career and holds the 3rd place for the Most Goals scored in NHL history. He returned to the Czech Republic, where he lives now, for his hockey retirement. We wish him all the best for his 49th birthday!
It all began on the Čabárna pond
Jaromír Jágr was born February 15, 1972 in Kladno. He discovered his love for the ice at the age of 5, when he began skating with his father on the Čabárna pond. He started playing hockey in the third grade, when he already played for the sixth-class PZ Kladno and scored 12 goals in a match against Sparta.
Graduation at 30
It was always difficult to find time for school because of his busy schedule. Therefore, he graduated from high school 12 years after finishing the 4th year at the Kladno Technical School & College, he was 30 at the time. Jágr finished his studies at a private high school in Vysočany, Prague.
Drafted at 18
It was in 1990, when eighteen-year-old Jágr was drafted to the NHL Pittsburgh Penguins for the first time. At the beginning, communication was a huge issue for him, as he barely spoke English and he missed his family. A fellow Czech player Jiří Hrdina, whom Pittsburgh recruited from Calgary because of him, helped him break the language barrier eventually.
"Everything changes. You have to adjust. The world changes in different directions, and you have to move with it. Same with hockey,"
says Jágr. After the draft to Pittsburgh, Kladno wanted $750,000 for Jágr after signing the contract. The Penguins' CEO had to come to Prague and negotiate with the Kladno officials, and eventually settled for $200,000.
It was clear from the beginning that great things were in store from the '68' player. As a junior, he won a silver medal at the European Championship in 1989 and a bronze at the Junior World Championship a year later. Jágr first appeared in the men's category at World Championship in Switzerland (1990), where the Czechoslovak team won bronze medals.
He first played for the sovereign Czech national team at the World Championship in Italy (1994), where he arrived after being eliminated from the NHL playoffs. However, the Czech team didn't do too well and ended up in 7th place.
"Rewrite the history – the Czech Republic won the Olympic Games,"
those were the words of the sports commentator Robert Záruba after the defeat of the Russians in the Winter Olympics hockey finale. Jágr travelled to Nagano for the Winter Olympic Games in 1998 as well. Because of the NHL break, the best teams of individual countries played there. It was the Winter Olympics in Japan when the Czech Republic won its first-ever gold medal.
Other medals for the collection
The Czech team, along with Jaromir Jágr, was able to repeat such a great success seven years later at the World Championship in Vienna, where they won gold and became World Champions. A year later, in 2006, the Czech team won bronze at the Winter Olympic Games in Turin. Again with Jágr, the Czechs won a gold medal in World Championship in Germany, 2010, and bronze in Slovakia one year later.
Scoring goals in NHL for 27 years
Jaromir Jágr became an NHL legend for a reason. He played for the NHL for an incredible 27 years, during which he went through nine overseas clubs - Pittsburgh, Washington, New York Rangers, Philadelphia, Dallas, Boston, New Jersey, Florida and Calgary. During his career, he hit the ice for 1733 games and scored 766 goals! He holds third place in the Most Goals chart in NHL history.
His highest-paying club was Washington
The best season for Jágr was 2002/2003, when he played for the Washington Capitals. He made an incredible $11 million in one season. In his last NHL season playing for the Calgary Flames, he made 'only' $1 mil.
Dating models and presenters
The Czech number 68 managed to date a number of women during his lifetime, but they all have one thing in common - their stunning beauty! The model Iva Kubelková was the first woman that officially appeared alongside Jaromír Jágr. They were together for two years. She was with him during his biggest national team achievement, when the Czech team won the Winter Olympics gold medal in Nagano in 1998. His second partner was Nicol Lenertová, a TV Nova presenter. They were dating just for a couple of months in 1998.
His third partner, the Slovak model Andrea Verešová, became famous by his side and permanently moved to the Czech Republic. It was the second-longest relationship of the Czech legend. They were together for four years. In 2004, he had an affair with Lucie Borhyová, and got caught by paparazzi climbing over her fence in the middle of the night. It was never clear for how long they had actually been together, though.
The longest relationship was with Inna, Veronika came after her
Jágr's longest relationship was with Inna Puhajková, which ended after six years. He was by her side whilst playing for New York, got transferred to Omsk and managed to return to the NHL. He began to go out with model Veronika Kopřivová in 2015 and many people thought she was finally 'the one'. However, their romance did not last, and the couple split in 2019.
Last year, he began dating Dominika Branišová, the 7th girlfriend in his life. Shall we presume that she's finally the one?
Back to Kladno
Jágr returned to the Czech Republic at the end of January 2018 and signed a contract with his hometown Kladno on January 31. He claims that his professional hockey career is over. At the moment, he resides in the Czech Republic and plays hockey just to stay fit.
"I hear people asking why I'm not quitting or why I'm still bothered. But I quit a long time ago! Professionally, I quit hockey. Now I only play for myself. My hockey career ended with my last NHL game, it's over,"