Marchand: Jagr Makes Everyone Around Him Better
Jagr's aura is apparent around the B's, but the veteran is helping the young forwards to just focus on playing their game
BostonBruins.com - Following Saturday's morning skate at the Bell Centre in Montreal, a hoard of reporters surrounded Jaromir Jagr's area first in the visiting team locker room - and even then, there was a force field around the NHL's 10th leading goal scorer of all-time, as they gave him distance and waited a few minutes until he was settled.
"Give him some space, give him some space," Seguin said, seated not far away from Jagr in the compressed room, as Marchand quickly chimed in, "Remember when they used to come to us first, Seggy?" to which they broke out a laugh from Jagr.
The sequence showed firsthand not only how well Jagr is fitting in the room, but also, the aura that not only the media, but the other Bruins feel from the presence of the future Hall of Famer.
"I think he does because a lot of our players right now get texts from their friends wanting autographs, they're being bombarded by that kind of stuff, so obviously, he certainly has an aura about him that he's certainly earned," said Coach Julien, when asked if Jagr has an aura about him.
"He's a Hall of Famer, no doubt. For what he's accomplished at his age, it's pretty amazing as well. LIke I said, all the accolades he gets, he's deserved."
Marchand, Seguin and the B's may be in awe of Jagr, but he was not putting the focus on himself, but rather, on the young guns who "have to" play with him. On Thursday night, despite scoring the Bruins lone goal in their 1-0 shutout of New Jersey, he told media he had to be better - that he was the one who needed to feed off the youth around him.
"You know, they're young guys, they've got a lot of energy," said Jagr on Saturday morning. "You don't want to slow them down."
"You don't want them to play like me, a slow game," smiled Jagr. "They have to be quick, they need their energy. I'm happy for them, it's good for them."
"For us, he's a great leader in his own way," added Coach Julien, on how Jagr is being assimilated into the locker room. "I think the biggest thing is the respect he has from the people around him, and he's earned that because he's very respectful. There's no doubt he'll have a positive impact and he's already shown that in the last game by doing the little things."
There's no denying, though, not only the respect, but also the starstruck nature of the B's with someone in their locker room who they grew up watching.
"The excitement of that, there's no doubt. I even saw, I think, Seguin apologizing one time for not giving him the puck, so we'll get past that stage, there's no doubt," Coach said, when asked if his Bruins found themselves focused in on Jagr during the game. "First time it's a natural thing for a player, like I said, he wasn't even born when he started in the NHL, but that'll pass and our players will adjust to him being on our team and not being so in awe of him, just play our game."
Brad Marchand admitted he's caught himself at times just watching Jagr, or feeling obligated to pass him the puck.
"I think everyone was a Jagr fan growing up," Marchand acknowledged. "The way he could handle the puck and take control of the game, it was always a special thing to watch. Even out there now in practice, watching him play and watching how he controls things, it's amazing – just the skill level. We're lucky to have him on our team."
"I was pretty nervous, actually, the first time we skated together," he added.
"I felt like every time I got it I had to give it to him and kind of let him play with it. Guys are yelling at me and we'd be on a two-on-one and the defenseman standing by him, and I had a breakaway and I give it to him."
"He's one of those guys that you admire, but he makes everyone around him better."
The aura may never wear off for Marchand, but at the very least, on the ice, his legendary linemate will steer him back to his game.
"He came up to me before the game and said, 'Just play your game, don't worry, I'm not going to get upset if you keep the puck or anything like that. Just play your game and everything will work out.'"
"It was nice to hear before the game, and it worked out for us."
So, would Marchand be considered in the group that Coach Julien said has been asked for autographs?
"Yeah, yeah. I almost feel like a super fan right now," smiled the winger.
"I haven't got around to it yet, but I'm sure I'll steal a stick or two by the end of the year."