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Pre-game reading: On Jaromir Jagr, who wasn’t always so beloved

-- Up top, celebrate Jaromir Jagr’s 45th birthday by remembering the day he was drafted fifth overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The four players selected before Jagr were Owen Nolan, Petr Nedved, Keith Primeau, and Mike Ricci. That year, 1990, was also the year Keith Tkachuk (19th), Doug Weight (34th), and Peter Bondra (156th) were drafted.

-- Those old enough will know that Jagr wasn’t always such a beloved player. His stint with the Washington Capitals was certainly a forgettable one, as Jonas Siegel of the Canadian Press recalls. “Capitals management took the whole experience as a lesson that it was better to build around young players and draft picks than expensive superstars in free agency. They traded Jagr to the Rangers in January 2004, his Washington tenure lasting less than 200 games including the playoffs.” (Canadian Press)

-- Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg isn’t quite Jagr’s age, but at 36, he’s no spring chicken in a young man’s league. Neither for that matter is teammate Niklas Kronwall, also 36. “It’s getting end of the road here for us, and you’ve just got to enjoy it as much as you can,” says Zetterberg. “And not be as down as you’ve probably been before when you haven’t played as good enough. Or, when the team’s not doing well, you’ve got to find the good things and the happy things and try to keep your head up.” (Sports Illustrated)

-- Sticking with the “old guy” theme, here’s something by Pierre LeBrun on 39-year-old Jarome Iginla, a pending unrestricted free agent. “Could a reunion with his former Calgary Flames coach/GM Darryl Sutter be a possibility? A source told that the Los Angeles Kings have kicked around the merits of that idea given that history between their coach and Iginla. Whether the Kings actually decide to act on it and call Colorado about it remains to be seen.” (ESPN)

-- Retired goalie Corey Hirsch opens up about his battle with OCD, writing in The Players’ Tribune: “I can still recall the exact moment that my brain started lying to me.” It’s an excellent piece, well worth the read. Though most of it is quite dark, Hirsch ends on a hopeful note, for those who may be suffering from the same affliction. (The Players’ Tribune)

-- The Montreal Gazette’s Jack Todd thinks Claude Julien is the right man to coach the Habs. “I’ve dealt with every Canadiens coach since Pat Burns and to me, Julien and Alain Vigneault are numbers 1A and 1B when it comes to honesty, decency and character. In my world, character matters. Julien has character. He’s the real deal, salt of the earth, a standup guy, whatever you want to call him.” (Montreal Gazette)

Enjoy the games!