Back in Jagr's early years, when he rode shotgun with Mario Lemieux as a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Boston Bruins forward David Krejci was just getting started in hockey. Growing up in the former Czechoslovakia, if there was hockey on television, it was the Penguins and Krejci was watching.
"Every time they showed hockey on TV it was always Pittsburgh," said Krejci during Tuesday's Stanley Cup Media Day. "I don't remember any other team. He's a big name. He's very big in Czech, especially 20 years ago when they won two Cups."
The Bruins forward didn't get the chance to meet Jagr until the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver when the pair played for the Czech Republic. "I was nervous," Krejci admitted.
Fellow countryman Michael Frolik of the Chicago Blackhawks grew up in Kladno, the hometown made famous by Jagr. Like Krejci, he looked up to Jagr, even wearing No. 68 to Florida Panthers camp early in his NHL career. They met during the 2004-05 lockout playing in the Czech Republic. Frolik, like Jagr, began playing professionally at age 16.
"Right now we know the Cup will be going to my hometown, so that's a good thing," Frolik told CSN Chicago last week. "I know Jagr and Krejci, I played with Krejci in (juniors) one year in the same line so I'm very familiar with him and I know he's a very good skill player."
Over 20 years since he broke into the league, Jagr's influence on a generation of Czech hockey players continues to grow.
"After [Pittsburgh's '91 and '92 Cup wins], if you ask any hockey player from Czech who's my age, everybody's going to say Jagr's their favorite player," said Krejci.
"I'm glad that he's still playing and I'm on his team right now."
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
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- Jaromir Jagr
- David Krejci
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