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Jagr gets 1,000th NHL assist in Stars' win

by Steve Hunt

Jaromir Jagr
Jaromir Jagr
Right Wing - DAL
GOALS: 14 | ASST: 11 | PTS: 25
SOG: 80 | +/-: -1

DALLAS -- Jaromir Jagr became the 12th player in NHL history to reach 1,000 career assists when the 41-year-old helped set up Dallas Stars teammate Jamie Benn’s power-play goal at 2:10 of the third period against Minnesota on Friday night.

Jagr fed Ray Whitney near the left post. Whitney then slid the puck across the ice to Benn, who one-timed the puck from below the right faceoff dot into the open side of the net.

Jagr’s first assist came on Oct. 19, 1990 -- with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he assisted on a goal by Zarley Zalapski in 4-4 tie with the Buffalo Sabres at the Memorial Auditorium.

After Friday's game, Jagr reminisced about his early days in the NHL, admitting he never expected to earn his 1,000th assist as a member of the Dallas Stars, primarily because the Minnesota North Stars didn't move to Dallas until 1993, three years after Jagr joined the NHL with Pittsburgh as an 18-year-old.

"When I started, I didn't think about it because Dallas wasn't in the League," Jagr said, chuckling. "I never thought about any assists and points, I was happy to be able to play here [in the NHL early on]. When I came here, I didn't think I'd have a chance to play here. The League was too strong and too tough for me.

"I kept working hard and I've had so many good players around me, they showed me the way of how to get better. I really was pretty lucky. I always said you have to be lucky with who you play with and I had a chance to play with so many great players."

Stars coach Glen Gulutzan, who is five months older than Jagr, praised the wing for his historic career as well as his contributions to the Stars.

"How good is he? We're going to debate if he's one of the best ever," Gulutzan said. "Just the confidence and will and desire to win and be good is probably the effect he is going to give our group. You saw that tonight."

Following the Stars' 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild, coaches and teammates continued to buzz about Jagr's accomplishment. For players who weren't even born yet when the Czech icon first entered the League, it put a lot of things in perspective.

"It's got to be pretty special for him. He's a role model for me and so many people," said forward Cody Eakin, who was born seven months after Jagr made his NHL debut. "[He is] one of the best names in the hockey business. It's very impressive."

Jagr's 1,679 points rank eighth all-time, 44 behind former Penguins teammate Mario Lemieux. Jagr needs 16 assists to tie Joe Sakic for 11th on the career assists list.

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