Below is a loosely translated Facebook post from Jags:
"Is 11.15 at night. Most probably already asleep and I with 15 one vest, finishing the last exercise. Usedám on the bench to rest and zahledím in the mirror. After a while, I think of a question. Is it still worth it? Unfortunately I can't answer unambiguously. I really don't know. I'm thinking on .... You're alone, with no family, you work like a horse, no one on you at home waiting-hmmm, that doesn't sound very hopeful, I think....., and now I can think of another question ....And why the hell are you doing? ..... But on this question, I know the answer right away. Because I love it. :) Yes, once again I see that love is the most beautiful, the most powerful and the most amazing, what a man can feel. Love is the greatest power, love is the best drive, love knows no limit, with love can do everything what you wish for."
You read this and your first thought is that it is equal parts admirable and depressing. Jagr will be 43 years old at the mid point of the season and does not have a wife or children. Then you realize that Jagr has run through a baker's dozen of gorgeous European women, some of which he dated for years at a time. It then becomes evident that he has never loved anything as much as he loves hockey. He doesn't continue to play because he has nothing else to fall back on, he plays because there is nothing he's ever loved more.
Forty two is ancient in hockey years. In previous years, playing 2nd and 3rd line minutes for Dallas and Boston, it seemed that Jagr was experiencing a decline. Almost unbelievably, he has managed a resurgence in New Jersey. Last year Jaromir managed to be a catalyst on an offensively deficient Devils team. In fact, most nights he was the best player on the ice. Not only was he a physically dominant presence, but he made players, such as Zajac and Zubrus, better. It was like the 1st line and power play minutes served as motivation. Almost as if he got more youthful and energetic with any given shift.
There is one thing that every professional athlete is blessed with. That is extreme amounts of talent. No matter how hard a player works, they all have a God given ability that has allowed them to excel to the top of their sport. The training, and persistence, they put into that talent dictates how far they let it take them. While his age ascends high above that of most players, Jagr's dedication and love for the sport dwarfs that of those same players. Jagr's training program, at a young 42 years of age, puts that of much younger players to shame. The picture in the beginning of this post shows that. Alone in a training room decked out in ankle weights and a weighted vest, he truly embraces his commitment to excellence.
Generally speaking, players retire for two reasons. Either their age surpasses their talent, or their age surpasses their ability to maintain that talent. Jagr is an anomaly in that sense. Every passing year insinuates that he will retire when he wants to retire. He's built like an ox. The above picture is a visual testament to that. He has played an extraordinary amount of games the last few seasons. His discipline to his fitness won't let his age dictate his health.
I think what every hockey fan respects about Jagr is that he loves the sport more than any of us love anything. He talks about his love for the sport as if it were a person. Like hockey is a significant other or an immediate family member. Can you say you love an activity that much? I know I can't. If love is the best drive and love has no limit, then the only thing stopping Jagr is Jaromir himself.