Player of the Month

The European Hockey.Net European Player of the Month is awarded to the player with the most oustanding performance over the course of the month

Nominations are collected at the end of each month, then a vote by the site's admin team decides the winner.

May 2005 - Jaromir Jagr

He won Stanley Cups, Olympic titles and several scoring titles throughout his career. Strangely enough he never won the IIHF World Championship trophy.

Not until 2005.

Jaromir Jagr was a dominant force behind the Czech victory in Austria that thwarted Canada winning its third straight gold medal.

Playing on one of the strongest Czech teams of the past decade Jagr knew this year was an excellent chance to capture the much wanted trophy. Not in the least because the Czech was looking to take revenge for their early quarter final exit last year at home. Number 68 himself missed an important penalty shot in the all decisive series against the United States.

Jaromir Jagr earned himself the European Hockey.Net Player of the Month Award by leading his team to win the gold. Now aged 32, Jagr has more and more become a team player instead of that lethal sniper he used to be. His two assists in the final against Canada underline this.

Jagr still draws defensemen to him and is able to create openings for his team mates with nifty laser guided passes. During eight games in Austria at the World Chamnpionship, Jagr collected 'just' two goals and had seven assists for 'a team leading' nine points.

What made it even more remarkable is the fact that Jagr had to overcome the pain from playing with a broken pinkie in the final stages of the tournament.

German defenseman Stefan Schauer broke Jagr`s little finger with his stick on May 3rd. Jagr moved to Brno where he was treated in hospital. "I don't think the rest helped me. I prefer to play all the time. At the beginning of the game my legs hurt a little bit, mainly in the first period I did not feel well. Good that we have a lot of commercial breaks," Jagr smiled.

The forward missed his team's game against Kazakhstan (1-0 win), but was back in the line-up for the rival game against neighbours Slovakia.

It is hard to believe but that day Jagr played his first game against Slovakia in his life. "I did not have a special motivation, but I knew that if we would lose, I would have to listen to stories about it for a long time. It is better to finish it this way", Jagr told eurohockey.net in upbeat mood.(The Czechs beat their neighbours 5-1).

Even an injured Jaromir Jagr is still a world class player. He showed so against Slovakia when he fooled Slovak defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky only to see his effort ring off the iron. "If I would be a speedy player I would run him away. Because I am not, I have to think of other tricks. Well, there is no problem, that I only hit the post. More important moments are still about to come," Jagr knew.

And he was right.

The Czechs lost against the Russians (1-2) but made up for it with a comfortable 5-1 win over Belarus to meet team USA in the quarter finals.

Jagr was held scoreless (as he would be in the semi-final against Sweden), but his presence on the ice always seemed to worry the opposition. Despite reaching the final, Jagr wasn't convinced about his team's chances to claim the gold.

"We were lucky in the shootout against the USA and in the overtime against Sweden. But I started to believe that we could do when we scored the 2-0 goal in the final".

The 3-0 victory over Canada not only earned the Czech forward a spot in the history books of the World Championships, but also saw him become a member of the exclusive Triple Gold Club; for players who have won both the IIHF World Championship, Olympics and Stanley Cup.

About finally making it to the Triple Gold Club as member 15: "There are not many players who have it and you have to be lucky to play on great teams to accomplish that. Erich Kuhnhackl was a great forward, but he was never able to reach this while playing for Germany. Marcel Dionne was a superstar for 19 years in the NHL, but he was never on a team that won the Stanley Cup. For most Canadians and Americans, the Olympic gold was something they could start dreaming about just recently. As I said, you have to be lucky," Jagr told IIHF after the final game. Also team mate Jiri Slegr joined the Triple Gold Club.

This success was a worthy finish of the season for Jagr. Because of the NHL lock-out, the New York Rangers-forward started the season on his home town team HC Kladno. He was a major force in the Czech league and saw all the games he played in being sold out. After 17 games he decided to move to Russia, where Avangard Omsk were delighted to welcome him. With Jagr on the team, Omsk won the inaugural IIHF European Champions Cup in January. Omsk beat Finland champions Kärpät Oulu 2-1 thanks to an overtime goal... scored by Jagr. That month he also captured the Eurohockey.net Player of the Month award.

Omsk went flying high in the Russian league but eventually they were put to a halt in the semi finals on the playoffs by a dominant Dynamo Moscow.

Despite having missed out on the league title, Omsk have already expressed that they'd be more than willing to see Jagr return to the team if the NHL lock-out continues. Jagr has yet to refuse this offer. Just after he moved he was quoted as saying: "I want to try it, maybe I'll be back within a month."

Jaromir Jagr wasn't. He enjoyed a beautiful season in Russia and capped it with a wonderful performance in Austria. It has been some time, but that well known smile is back on Jagr's face. The summer of 2005, will be a nice one for the famous number 68.

From the eurohockey.net archive

Jagr won our Player of the Month for January 2005.

Interview with Jagr during the 2005 IIHF World Championships in Austria.

The Czech Republic beat Canada to win Austria 2005.

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