TORONTO -- When the Florida Panthers acquired veteran Jaromir Jagr seven months ago to help their push for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it was a thrill of a lifetime for the young core of Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov and Aaron Ekblad, none of whom had been born when Jagr made his NHL debut.
The addition of Jagr was the latest piece in the organization's culture change since general manager Dale Tallon arrived on the scene five years ago.
Ownership switched hands to Vincent Viola in September 2013. Tallon brought in a new coach in Gerard Gallant, a top-tier goalie in Roberto Luongo, and Stanley Cup experience with gritty forwards David Boland and Shawn Thornton as well defenseman Willie Mitchell last summer.
Then, Jagr was acquired Feb. 26 in a trade with the New Jersey Devils for a second-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft and a 2016 third-round pick. He signed a one-year contract to return this season.
The 43-year-old Czech, who won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992, immediately fit in on the ice alongside Barkov and Huberdeau.
But he also was a dressing-room sage for others like Bjugstad, who sat next to Jagr.