MONTREAL – It's not every day a player gets a chance to skate with a living hockey legend, unless said player happens to be Boston Bruins forwards Tyler Seguin or Brad Marchand.
Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand have accomplished a lot in their brief NHL careers, but even they were star struck when coach Claude Julien put new acquisition Jaromir Jagr on their line. (Photo: NHLI via Getty Images)
They were the lucky pair chosen by coach Claude Julien to play with Jaromir Jagr when the likely future member of the Hockey Hall of Fame was acquired by the Bruins from the Dallas Stars before the NHL Trade Deadline.
If you combined the ages of Marchand (24 years old) and Seguin (21), they would be four years older than 41-year-old Jagr.
"I was pretty nervous the first time we skated together [at practice]," Marchand said after the Bruins' morning skate to prepare for a game Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens. "I felt like every time I got [the puck] I had to give it to him and let him play with it. Guys were yelling at me because we'd be on a 2-on-1 and the defenseman would just stand by him and I had a breakaway but I would still give it to him."
Jagr clearly realized what was happening, and set his new linemate straight before a 1-0 win Thursday against the New Jersey Devils.
"He came up to me before the game and told me to just play my game and not to worry, that he won't be upset if I keep the puck," Marchand said. "It was nice to hear before the game."
Julien said many of his younger players have been bombarded with text messages from friends seeking autographs from Jagr, and that having a larger-than-life figure like him on the team has taken a bit of getting used to. But Seguin said he feels they've already reached that point.
"I think the first little bit was surreal for [Marchand] and I," Seguin said. "It's pretty cool. In the end we're still hockey fans and we know what his experience level is and what he's done. But you also have to find a point where you're trying to make the line better and building chemistry.
Right Wing - BOS
GOALS: 15 | ASST: 12 | PTS: 27
SOG: 92 | +/-: -4
"I think you find a point where you're in awe a bit but you realize you're a professional athlete and a hockey player as well, then you go out there and play your game. I think we're at that point. We got our first couple of practices in and our first game. We've made it over that nervous-surreal kind of hump. We talked to him for a while and realized he puts on his pants the same way we do."
The one area the Bruins hope Jagr will help is the power play, a chronic problem in Boston. Prior to Saturday, the Bruins' power play was ranked 25th in the NHL with a 14.6 percent success rate. The power play under Julien has finished in the top half of the League once in five previous seasons, but it has never finished a season with a success rate below 15 percent on his watch.
Julien is hoping Jagr helps to keep that streak going.
"He's got great vision," Julien said. "He sees plays, he moves, he's strong on the puck. Any team, whether it's us or anybody else, that would have gotten Jagr would have improved their power play. He's a guy that's proven himself over the years to be an impact power-play guy, so we're hoping he's going to do the same thing for us."