In honour of Jaromir Jagr becoming the NHL’s second all-time leading scorer – OK, I know I’m a bit late on that, but it was Christmas and then it was New Year’s, and… ah just gimme a break – I present you a smorgasbord of Jags!
Even at almost 45 years of age, Jagr is still among the fittest players in the league. This guy puts players half his age to shame with his crazy workout routine and his dedication to the game. He will no doubt go down as one of the greatest players in NHL history, since he’s done pretty much everything in his career except win the Vezina Trophy. He’s been around a looooooong time, my friends, and he has seen all sorts of trends come and go over the course of his career. It’s a lot of fun to look at the cards that he has featured in since breaking into the league because you can pretty accurately put together a history of awful style and pop culture fads and trends just by lining up all his cardboard evidence back-to-back. Let’s hop into the Hockey Hall of Shame time machine and revisit some of the oddest hockey cards featuring Jaromir Jagr.
When he entered the league as a fresh-faced rookie, Jagr sported the classic hockey hair in such a way only he could pull off. Jags is without a doubt the patron saint of bad hockey hair.
By year two of Jagr’s career, the mullet took on a life of its own, and I mean that almost literally as it looks as though a perfectly-coiffed cat took up permanent residence on his head.
It did not get better as All-Star games became the routine for the young Czech. Just check out the shot of Jagr from the 1993-94 Topps Stadium Club set, but before that, I’d like you to think back to your elementary school days. Remember every year when they hauled your entire class down to the cafeteria and they had you sit in front of the most God-awful background for the photo that would one day litter Google Images and shame you into dropping out of college. Your hair always looked horribly dated and the background always looked like you were caught in the middle of a battle between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance.
Does this look familiar to you?
Well, here we have for your viewing pleasure poor Jaromir Jagr posing for an elementary school photo. At least, I assume that’s what the photographer had in mind when he sat Jags down in front of the camera. I also have to mention something about the hair. Jags has been known to sport some of the most sensational hockey hair of all-time, but I don’t think that has ever been more true than on this card. I hope he at least gave the cat (which seems to have put on some weight since the previous All-Star game) some of the residuals from this card. Man, there’s no need for a helmet with that kind of hair.
As bad as that is, Jags has many many more horrible looking cards from that same period. Feast your eyes upon Casual Jags hanging around the locker room circa Upper Deck ’92-’93.
As we continue down memory lane, we run into an old favourite here at Golden Seals Hockey. We’ve all seen the dead cat toupee look from the infamous 1994-95 Be a Player set. You know the one I’m talking about…
God, I hate that mid-90s trend that was meant to make everyone look like a totally gnarly and bitchin’ X-treme snowboarder dude. Back in the 1990s, it seemed idiotic team names and avant-garde sports with X’s and Z’s were everywhere. The X Games, the XFL, the Calgary Rad’z (Roller Hockey International), Long Island Jawz (also RHI)… awful. Not to mention those dickheads who used to write the word “cool” K-E-W-L. AHHHHHHH! Had to throw that one in there. People were absolutely obsessed with the last few letters of the alphabet back in the 90s and early 2000s, but I digress.
Getting back to that Be a Player card, I also can’t stand the big capital letters intermingled with small capital letters. That also seemed to be everywhere you looked in 1995. The fonts were always crooked, but purposely crooked like those using them wanted to prove to everyone they were hip and aloof, and didn’t have the time to play by the stodgy standards of the Reagan era. This card looks like a damn ransom note.
Before we get to the next Jagr card, I want you to answer this question for me. Do you think this here photo looks good? Be honest.
OK, how about this one?
Or this one?
Hang on, is that Lena Dunham and Kelly Ripa staring at some dude doing lunges in his pyjamas? Is it just me or does Lena seem kinda turned on? I mean, just look at the way she’s biting her lip…
I’m sorry, where was I? Oh yeah…
How about this lovely pic of a sweatered Jason Statham (?) and Santa Claws (see what I did there?) ?
No? Let me guess… the hologram-spirit-looking things don’t fit, right? See, that’s my point. Photos of people with hologram-spirit-looking things in the background NEVER look good. They look so damn cheesy, no matter if the photo was taken in 1982, 1992 or 2002. In most cases, the picture would probably look ok if it wasn’t for the floating head in the background. Think Jags can pull the look off though? You be the judge.
Surprisingly, it’s actually better.
Here’s another mid-nineties trend that thankfully went away: EVERYTHING IN TEAL! At first, when the San Jose Sharks introduced their original teal uniforms, the world went “OOH! AAH!” because the designs were stylish and the colours were original, but by the late nineties, when everyone from the Vancouver Grizzlies to the Detroit Pistons, to the Charlotte Hornets, to the Jacksonville Jaguars, to the Seattle Mariners, among others switched to teal, it got real annoying and cliched. The 1994 and 1996 All-Star games weren’t even in San Jose, and yet the NHL chose to go with teal uniforms, because teal was everywhere at the time! That and purple…
Remember when back in the 70s the L.A. Kings had purple uniforms and the Seals had uniforms just a shade away from teal, and everyone thought they looked atrocious? Well, by the mid-nineties, atrocious was the new black.
Anyway, getting back to the Man of the Hour, Jagr’s cards got much better as the years went by and card companies started hiring competent people who knew how to take photos and design cards that didn’t make you want to wretch. Well, for the most part that is…
There’s this one, where something seems to be growing out of his head.
This one is ok, and it shows how by this point the mullet had gone out of style, and a less rock-‘n’-roll look became the popular style.
There’s also this one from 2000 where we see the league’s latest tweaking of the All-Star Game uniforms. God, I hated that tennis shirt look with the space-agey numbers on the back. What an awful look! The fonts looked like something off the computer screen of every low-budget sci-fi film in the early 80s.
Why is Sundin’s name written under his number 13?
Luckily, since then we’ve made our way back to the past where everything every player wears on the ice is some sort of throwback. And so is Jaromir Jagr when you think about it. He is a throwback to my earliest days of watching hockey with my Dad, and that is comforting. Jagr is the only one to have been around all those years, and the only one who can truly say he wore the originals many of those throwback uniforms. On that note, congratulations Jags! You’ve truly earned your spot among the NHL’s elite, and now that hockey fashion has come full circle, your cards are finally able to reflect that greatness.