As part of the NHL Centennial Celebration, renowned Canadian artist Tony Harris will paint original portraits of each of the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian as chosen by a Blue Ribbon panel. NHL.com will reveal two portraits each Monday in 2017.
This week, the portraits of forwards Joe Nieuwendyk and Jaromir Jagr are unveiled in the 37th installment.
Joe Nieuwendyk was chosen by the Calgary Flames with the No. 27 pick in the 1985 draft. A seamless transition to the NHL after forgoing his senior year at Cornell University began with 51 goals in 1987-88, two short of Mike Bossy's then record for goals by a rookie. The center had 1,126 points (564 goals, 562 assists) in 1,257 games for five NHL teams, won the Calder Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy and Olympic gold, and the Stanley Cup three times with the Flames, Stars and Devils.
In his NHL100 profile of Nieuwendyk, author George Johnson recalled how the Flames were reaching an apex once Nieuwendyk's NHL career got going:
"All of us knew Joe was going to be special right away,'' said forward Lanny McDonald, an early mentor of Nieuwendyk's in Calgary. "First of all, he could fly. Absolutely fly. Great hands. Great lateral movement. And he loved -- absolutely loved -- the game. That's a pretty good foundation to build on."
Nieuwendyk's 51 goals in 1988-89, including a Flames record five against the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 11, set up Calgary's run to the Stanley Cup. The Flames made Nieuwendyk their 12th captain before the 1991-92 season until he was traded to the Stars on Dec. 19, 1995. Though Nieuwendyk dealt with a fractured rib cartilage, a torn ACL, back issues and a separated shoulder during his time in Dallas, he helped the Stars win the Cup in 1999, when six of his 11 Stanley Cup Playoff goals were game-winners en route to winning the Conn Smythe Trophy.
On March 19, 2002, Nieuwendyk was traded by the Stars to the Devils, where he won the Cup for the third time in 2003 despite a hip injury that prevented him from playing in the Final. Eight years later, Nieuwendyk was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
"A dream to coach,'' said Terry Crisp, Nieuwendyk's coach on the Cup-winning Flames team. "Nieuwy'd just come into the room, put on his sweater and go out and play.
"No fuss. No dramatics. You could chew him out, kick his butt. He just went out and did the job."
Artist Tony Harris said painting Nieuwendyk made him remember how much he likes the old-school Flames jersey.
"While I was working on this portrait of Joe Nieuwendyk, I realized how much I liked this version of the Calgary Flames uniform," Harris said. "I think there current jersey is great but I do like it when they come back to this one from time to time."
Video: Joe Nieuwendyk won Cup with three different teams
Few players have achieved hockey excellence in as many places as Jaromir Jagr. Selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the No. 5 pick in the 1990 NHL Draft, Jagr began his NHL career by winning the Stanley Cup in 1991 and 1992.
Jagr didn't stop there. His 1,914 points are second to Wayne Gretzky (2,857) on the NHL's all-time list, and his 765 goals are third behind Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801). He's a five-time winner of the Art Ross Trophy as the League's scoring champion, including four consecutive seasons (1997-2001), and won the Hart Trophy as MVP after he had an NHL career-high 127 points (44 goals, 83 assists) for the Penguins in 1998-99. He's also one of 27 players in the Triple Gold Club, individuals who have won the Stanley Cup, and gold medals at the IIHF World Championship and Olympic games.
Jagr has played for eight NHL teams: the Penguins, Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Dallas Stars, Boston Bruins, New Jersey Devils and Florida Panthers. In between stints with the Rangers and Flyers, he spent three seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League.
Author Stu Hackel attempted to sum up Jagr's 'long, kaleidoscopic career' in his NHL100 profile:
"Here's what his then coach with the Penguins, Scotty Bowman, told Sports Illustrated's E.M. Swift in 1992: 'He's a different type of player than the League has seen in a long time. He has a lot of Frank Mahovlich in him. His skating style and strength make him almost impossible to stop 1-on-1. A lot of big guys play with their sticks tight to their bodies and don't use that reach to their advantage like Jaromir does.
"'When Jaromir gets the puck, he's always thinking, 'Where can I go with it?' He reminds me of Maurice Richard in that way. They both played the off-wing, and both had so many moves I don't think either knew which moves they were going to do until they did them. Totally unpredictable.'"
Harris said it was a thrill to paint Jagr in the uniform of his first NHL team.
"I was very pleased to portray Jaromir Jagr in his Pittsburgh Penguins uniform," Harris said. "His years with Mario [Lemieux] and the exciting brand of hockey that those Penguin teams played was a thrill to watch."
Video: Jaromir Jagr second on NHL points list