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On verge of assist milestone, Jagr reflects

by Steve Hunt

DALLAS -- Jaromir Jagr may not remember who scored when he logged his first NHL assist on Oct. 19, 1990 as the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres played to a 4-4 tie at the Buffalo Memorial Auditorium. But, the current Dallas Stars wing does realize just how huge his next assist will be.

With his next pass that leads to a Dallas goal, Jagr will reach 1,000 assists, a feat achieved by only 11 other players in League history. That milestone moment could come as early as Monday night when the Stars host the Minnesota Wild.

"It's a big achievement. There's no question about it," Jagr said. "Only eleven guys in history have done it. First I have to get there, I guess."

Of the 11 players who have already reached 1,000 assists, the veteran wing has been teammates with four -- Ron Francis (1,247 assists for second place on the list), Mark Messier (1,193, third), Paul Coffey (1,135, fifth) and Mario Lemieux (1,033 tenth).

Jagr remembers his time with each of those legends quite well.


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"Coffey's there, Mario [Lemieux], Ron Francis, he was my centerman probably the longest of all those guys," Jagr said. "Probably six, seven years, we played together; him and Mario on most of the power plays."

Dallas wing Tomas Vincour grew up in the Czech Republic idolizing Jagr and to potentially be a part of a history-making moment with Jagr is a big deal to Vincour.

"That would be great, to see him get his 1,000 assist and to be part of it," he said.

Vincour even relayed a story from the Stars bench after Jagr got career assist No. 999 in a 5-2 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday night. He, Eric Nystrom and Jagr were sitting on the bench when Jagr informed them that helper was assist No. 999. Nystrom wondered if his teammate meant points, to which Jagr responded that he had 999 points 10 years ago, a comment which drew laughter from all three players.

Current Dallas teammate Loui Eriksson, a 2011 All-Star, agrees that 1,000 assists is definitely an impressive milestone.

"It's an incredible number, Eriksson said. "It's pretty crazy to see that will happen. It's probably going to happen [Monday night]," Eriksson said. "He's been playing good for us lately. It's going to be fun when he does that. One thousand assists is a lot of hard work. He's been a great player over his whole career. It's good for him."

"It's pretty mind-boggling, especially he spent I think four years away from this League as well," Dallas coach Glen Gulutzan added. "And to have 1,000 assists, or 999 which he's at right now, is pretty neat. It's a pretty special thing to have 1,000 assists in the League."

As for the first assist of his legendary career, Jagr admits he didn't keep the puck as he did for his first NHL goal, which came on Oct. 7, 1990 against the New Jersey Devils. He also didn't remember who scored the goal, but decided it was Zarley Zalapski after determining that he couldn't have assisted on the Penguins' other goals that night by John Cullen and Joey Mullen.

"I didn't play with John [Cullen] or Joe [Mullen] so it's going to be [Zarley] Zalapski," Jagr said. "I didn't play on the same line with John Cullen. Joey [Mullen] was also a right wing, so it had to be Zalapski. I remember my first goal but I don't remember my first assist."

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