If Jaromir Jagr wins the Stanley Cup this year with the Boston Bruins, the Czech hockey legend will set an interesting NHL record that will be hard to beat. There will be a 21-year gap between his last Cup (1992) and his latest one.
That would be the longest wait between Cups for any player in league history.
Currently, the record of 16 years belongs to Chris Chelios, who won his first Stanley Cup with the Montreal Canadiens in 1986 and his second with the Detroit Red Wings in 2002. Mark Recchi is second at 15 years: he first won with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and had to wait for his second Cup with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.
Jagr, 41, won back-to-back Cups with the Penguins in 1991 and 1992. The powerful and gifted right wing was part of an incredible cast that included Recchi, Mario Lemieux, Ron Francis, Kevin Stevens, Rick Tocchet, Paul Coffey, Joe Mullen, Larry Murphy, and Tom Barrasso, among others.
Since then, Jagr has captured plenty of international hardware, including the 1998 Olympic gold in Nagano, the 2005 IIHF World Championship (which put him into the Triple Gold Club), and the 2010 IIHF World Championship.
But amazingly, despite playing with powerhouse Pittsburgh teams throughout the 1990s – plus some talent-laden squads in Washington, New York, and Philadelphia in the new millennium – the five-time NHL scoring champion has never tasted Stanley Cup champagne since he was 20.
Why haven’t more players experienced similarly lengthy gaps?
There are a lot of reasons.
Obviously, you need to play for a long time. Even considering Jagr’s played four seasons with Avangard Omsk in Russia, he still ranks 34th in all-time NHL regular season games with 1,391.
You need to win a Cup very early in your career, because if it doesn’t happen till you’re 25, you’re unlikely to be around in your 40s. Jagr is a special breed – most players are not destined to be Hart Trophy winners who rank eighth in all-time NHL scoring with 1,688 points.
You need to have some bad luck. For instance, the Penguins were heavy favourites to three-peat in 1993, but shockingly fell to the New York Islanders in the second round.
And most multiple-Cup winners achieve that feat with the same team within a limited period of time. (See the recent rosters of Pittsburgh, Detroit, New Jersey, Colorado, and so on.)
Other NHLers who have had long gaps between Cups include:
Mickey MacKay (14 years: Vancouver Millionaires 1915, Boston 1929)
Craig Ludwig (13 years: Montreal 1986, Dallas 1999)
Brian Skrudland (13 years: Montreal 1986, Dallas 1999)
Joe Nieuwendyk (10 years: 1989 Calgary, 1999 Dallas)
Chris Osgood (10 years: 1998 Detroit, 2008 Detroit)