Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Rooting for the Los Angeles Kings in the Playoffs

Yes, you read that right. Yes, I know that the Los Angeles Kings are not in the playoffs, but if I have learned anything from #WeAreAllKings, it is that once a King, always a King. I have to say thank you to Lori Hultin (@lhultin) for inspiring the idea for this post. I will give you a comprehensive list of former Kings or those with Kings connections, and we can all continue to root on our beloved Los Angeles Kings!!

Montreal Canadiens
Although he has yet to make an appearance in this year's playoffs, defenseman Mike Weaver is on the roster for Le Bleu-Blanc-Rouge. He signed with the Los Angeles Kings as a free agent in 2004 and played for the Manchester Monarchs during the lockout year of 2004-2005 and for a few games in the 2006-2007 season. He played for the Los Angeles Kings in the 2005-2006 season and for the majority of the following year. Weaver left as a free agent and bounced around a bit until settling with the Florida Panthers in 2010 where he remained for a little over three seasons when he was traded to the Canadiens in 2014.

New York Islanders
I'm sure many Kings fans recall defenseman Thomas Hickey who was drafted fourth overall in the 2007 draft. Although he never played for the Kings, he did spend almost five season with the Manchester Monarchs starting in 2008. Hampered by injuries early on, he did not have a full season until 2010. In January 2013, Hickey was picked up on waivers by the New York Islanders.

Kings fans will also remember fan favorite Lubomir Visnovsky who was drafted 118th overall in the fourth round of the 2000 draft. The defenseman played in the purple and black from 2000 until 2008. I still remember a story about when then head coach Andy Murray was welcoming Visnovsky to the team and gave a big speech. After talking for some time, he asked Lubo a question who just smiled and said, "Hi!" Murray realized that he probably did not understand the majority of what he said because his English was still rather limited. But who can resist Lubo's smile? During the 2008 offseason, the Kings traded Visnovsky to the Edmonton Oilers for Matt Greene and Jarret Stoll. Edmonton later traded him to the Anaheim Ducks who then traded him to the New York Islanders during the 2012 offseason.

Washington Capitals
Defenseman (noticing a trend here?) Tim Gleason who now plays for the Washington Capitals was briefly with both the Manchester Monarchs and Los Angeles Kings. Originally drafted by the Ottawa Senators in 2001, he was later traded to the Kings for Bryan Smolinski (blast from the past, eh?) in 2003. Gleason split time between the Monarchs and Kings for the 2003-2004 season. The lockout in 2004-2005, he played for the Manchester Monarchs, but he spent the 2005-2006 with the Kings. Just before the season officially started in 2006, Gleason was packaged with Eric Belanger to the Carolina Hurricanes for Jack Johnson and Oleg Tverdovsky. Gleason has spent the majority of his career in Carolina and even served as assistant captain. He was later traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs then returned to the Hurricanes until being traded during this season's free agency to the Capitals.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Although not directly associated with the Los Angeles Kings, rookie right-winger Beau Bennett of Gardena, California did play for the  Los Angeles Junior Kings during the 2008-2009 season. So there is a small connection as that is the Midget AAA affiliate of the team.

Another indirectly Los Angeles Kings connection is Brandon Sutter, son of Brent and nephew of our beloved head coach Darryl Sutter. Brandon, who plays center, was originally drafted by the Carolina Hurricanes in 2007. During the 2012 draft, Sutter was packaged with Brian Dumoulin and a first round pick to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Jordan Staal. I still remember that draft and finding out that Jordan would be delivered this news on the day of his wedding that he would be joining his two brothers, Eric and Jared, in Carolina. That was a huge trade that day.

And of course, Kings fans can cheer on defenseman Rob Scuderi. After winning his first Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009, Scuderi signed with the Kings as a free agent. During his four seasons with the team, he won his second Stanley Cup in 2012 (woohoo!). I'm sure we all remember his decision to return to Pittsburgh as a free agent in 2013. Although it was sad to see him go, I think fans respect his decision to leave and are thankful for all the wonderful memories he has brought to all. He is contending for his third Cup to put him in the company of Justin Williams.

Detroit Red Wings
Defenseman Kyle Quincey, who had originally been drafted by the Detroit Red Wings, played for the LA Kings during the 2008-2009 season after being claimed off waivers. He was a key contributor when Jack Johnson was injured and lead the defense in scoring. During the 2009 offseason, Quincey along with Tom Preissing were traded to the Colorado Avalanche for forward Ryan Smyth (yay!). During the 2011-2012 season, Quincey was a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning for about five minutes when the Avs traded him but then immediately dealt him back to Detroit where he has remained.

Tampa Bay Lightning
Despite the fact that this list has so far included defensemen, the Los Angeles Kings do occasionally draft forwards. Such as, Brian Boyle who was a first round twenty-sixth overall draft pick in 2003. I will never forget when the 6' 7" 244-pound center was drafted with his entire family in attendance, which included his twelve siblings. The Hingham, Massachusetts native went on to play for Boston College before joining the Manchester Monarchs and Los Angeles Kings for the 2006-2007, 2007-2008, and 2008-2009 seasons.

During the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Boyle was traded to the New York Rangers for a third-round pick in the 2010 draft (Jordan Weal). It was during his time with the Rangers under John Tortorella that Boyle began to shine as a depth forward who knew how to make the most of his large frame. Dave Taylor was not wrong in envisioning Brian Boyle as being the type of player who could take the team to a Stanley Cup Final when he drafted him all those years ago, only it was for a different team. Kings fans will remember him with the Rangers who faced the Kings last year... when the boys won their SECOND STANLEY CUP!!! After the post-season, Boyle signed as a free agent with the Tampa Bay Lightning. If you haven't noticed, I am a huge Brian Boyle fan. This is for several reasons: 1. He was a King. 2. I had the pleasure of meeting him once, and he was very nice to me in all my fangirl awkwardness. I think at one point I actually confessed that while I missed him with the Kings, I felt his time with the Rangers had really allowed him to develop as a player. Somebody should really be with me at all time to make sure I don't embarrass myself like that again, or at least Periscope it, so everyone can witness my cringe-worthy moments in real time. 3. He was a great depth fantasy hockey acquisition mid-season a few years ago who helped me win my league. It's the important things in life, people!

Minnesota Wild
Although he does not have a more direct connection with the Los Angeles Kings and has not made a playoff appearance yet, goaltender Darcy Kuemper played for the Ontario Reign for the 2011-2012 season. He split that season with the Houston Aeros and only made eight appearances between the pipes for the Reign. If Devan Dubnyk shows signs of slowing down, Kuemper may be getting the nod.

St. Louis Blues
Veteran Olli Jokinen was originally drafted by the LA Kings third overall in the 1997 draft and played  portions of the 1997-1998 and 1998-1999 seasons with the team. During the 1999 postseason, Jokinen was packaged with Josh Green, Mathieu Biron, and a first-round pick to the New York Islanders for Ziggy Palffy (yay!), Bryan Smoliniski, Marcel Cousineau, and a fourth-round pick.

Jokinen has had a long and successful career. He has played in over twelve hundred games and has tallied 321 goals and 429 assists for 750 points. This year he has split among the Nashville Predators, Toronto Maple Leafs, and St. Louis Blues. At thirty-six and looking at the tail-end of his career, he is chasing his first Stanley Cup.

Winnipeg Jets
Keaton Ellerby played on the 2012-2013 Los Angeles Kings. About a month into the season, the Florida Panthers traded Ellerby for a fifth-round pick in the 2013 draft. His presence on the team that went to the Western Conference Finals is still fresh in the minds of fans. He was signed to a contract for the 2013-2014 season but was put on waivers nearly a month into the season and was claimed by the Jets. He has spent the majority of this season with the Jets' minor-league affiliate, the St. John's IceCaps, but he could be recalled if the team is hampered by injuries as he has a two-way contract.

Anaheim Ducks
Tim Jackman only appeared in five games for the Los Angeles Kings in the 2006-2007 season, but he played for the Manchester Monarchs for two seasons in 2005-2006 and 2006-2007. In 2006, the Kings traded Yanick Lehoux for Jackman who was under contract with the Phoenix Coyotes but was playing for the AHL-affiliate San Antonio Rampage. In 2007, Jackman left as a free agent to sign with the New York Islanders.

Before the playoffs began, Anaheim activated goaltender Jason LaBarbera as a backup for the team. LaBarbera had previously spent the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 seasons with the Manchester Monarchs and 2005-2006, 2007-2008, and 2008-2009 with the LA Kings. He had been a goaltender with the team in the dark days before the rise of Jonathan Quick. I will never forget his Mr. Potato Head promo which has forever etched him fondly in my heart. "And the crowd goes wild!" On a side note, his wife Kodette is currently appearing in the Canadian reality series Hockey Wives, which you can find on Wednesday nights and on YouTube.

Vancouver Canucks
There are a couple of very familiar faces with the Canucks this year. Linden Vey who was drafted 96th overall in the fourth round of the 2009 draft by LA Kings is one of them. He spent 2011-2012, 2012-2013, and 2013-2014 with the Manchester Monarchs but did crack the Kings roster to provide depth for the Cup-winning 2013-2014 season. In the offseason, Vey was traded to the Canucks for a second-round pick (Roland McKeown). He has not made a playoff appearance for Vancouver, but he may if there are injuries, which is likely if the series with the Calgary Flames continues to be physical and chippy.

Brad Richardson began his career with the Colorado Avalanche but was traded in the summer of 2008 to the LA Kings for a second-round pick. He played three games for the Manchester Monarchs and spent the rest of the season with the Kings in 2008-2009 and remained with the team until 2013. As so many fans remember, he played on the 2012 Stanley Cup winning team. During the 2013 postseason, Richardson signed with Vancouver as a free agent and is currently pursuing his second Cup as so many of his former teammates have last season.

Chicago Blackhawks
Perhaps a surprising name on this list is Kimmo Timonen. I say surprising because the defenseman has never played for the Kings or Monarchs but was drafted 250th overall of the tenth round in the 1993 draft by Los Angeles. After he was drafted, Timonen returned to Finland to continue development and played for the Finnish 1998 Olympic team who won the bronze in Nagano, Japan. It was shortly after this, the Kings traded Timonen with Jan Vopat to the Nashville Predators in the 1998 expansion draft for the assurance that they would not take Gary Galley.

In the summer of 2014 while with the Philadelphia Flyers, Timonen was diagnosed with serious blood-clot issues and has been sidelined for much of the season. Before the trade deadline, the Flyers dealt him to the Blackhawks where Timonen made a triumphant return to finish the season. Interesting note, Timonen was on the Flyers team who lost to Chicago in the 2010 Stanley Cup Finals.

Kimmo's teammate on that 2010 Flyers team, Daniel Carcillo, is also on the current Blackhawks roster. Car Bomb spent the first half of the second Stanley Cup-winning team of 2013-2014 with the LA Kings after being traded from the Blackhawks for a conditional sixth-round pick in the draft. At the 2014 trade deadline, the Kings traded Carcillo to the New York Rangers for a conditional seventh-round pick in the draft. Car Bomb has not made an appearance in this year's playoffs so far.

While looking at Carcillo, it is very interesting to note that he has appeared on a team competing in the Stanley Cup Finals three times since 2010. As previously mentioned, he appeared in the Finals with the Flyers in 2010. In 2013, he was on the 2013 Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks. Then in 2013-2014, he split the season with the LA Kings and New York Rangers who played each other for the Cup. Now, he is with the Blackhawks but has yet to play.

So even if the Los Angeles Kings may not be in the playoffs, fans can still root on former members of the team. Go Kings Go! We are ALL Kings!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Why Can't Doug Wilson Make a Decision and Stick with It?

San Jose Sharks fans have been taken through the wringer this last season or so. Ever since they were knocked out of the playoffs by their bitter rivals, the Los Angeles Kings, in the first round, Joe Thornton being stripped of the captaincy, and very little done in terms of roster change, Sharks fans have been promised a "tomorrow team" that no one quite understands, including general manager Doug Wilson who coined the term. When Wilson first explained what he meant, he seemed to imply that he expected the team to make the playoffs but not win the Stanley Cup, he would focus on youth rather than the older original core, and that this was not really a rebuild. Ummm... what?

First, let's back up a bit. I want to say that I'm not even sure that any major changes were necessary in the first place. I know that San Jose Sharks fans were very disappointed with the first round exit. However, I still argue that it was not as bad as it seemed. The team that eliminated them went on to win the Stanley Cup, so it is not as though the Sharks faced an opponent who then got creamed in the second round. Yes, the series opened with the Sharks winning the first three games in a best of seven series. Should the Sharks have put it all out there and won the fourth game? Probably, yes, but the truth is, the Kings basically did not show up to play the first two games. By the third game, they had started to get their rhythm back, and that game was decided in sudden-death overtime. In the following games, they looked like that 2012 Stanley Cup winning team, and that sealed the Sharks fate. The LA Kings played like a championship team, and the Sharks did not. Yes, the Sharks went on to become the fourth team in NHL history to lose a three-game lead in the playoffs, but on the other side, Mike Richards and Jeff Carter had been on the Philadelphia Flyers when they became the third-team to overcome a three-game deficit. Through their leadership and experience, I have no doubt that they knew how to get the team motivated and that's why they are on two of the four NHL teams to have ever rebounded after being down three games in a row.

But did the Sharks need a bit of a facelift? You bet. What that series really taught the Sharks was that to be the best, they needed something more. I do not believe they needed a crazy rebuild because had they drawn the the Dallas Stars, they most likely would have gone on to the second round. Had they drawn the Anaheim Ducks that year, they also may have made it another round. The 2013-14 Sharks were a competitive team. With a bit more depth and replacing Martin Havlat with a solid offensive player might have been enough. However, the knee-jerk reaction from Doug Wilson seems to really be what has lead into this season's disaster.

One of the biggest moves during the 2014 offseason was that there was a change in captaincy. It was announced that Joe Thornton would no longer be the captain, and three assistant captains were named. One of them is... Joe Thornton? Yes, the man who was not deemed good enough to be the captain is still fit to be an assistant captain. (Major facepalm action here.) The other two assistant captains are Joe Pavelski and Patrick Marleau. Technically, there is nothing wrong with having three assistants and no captain in hockey. This season the Montreal Canadiens do not have a captain. When Brian Gionta was not given an extension, the team opted to name four assistants: Max Pacioretty, Tomas Plekanec, Andrei Markov, and P.K. Subban. And not naming a captain has never been an issue off or on the ice. They currently sit atop the Atlantic Division and rank second in the Eastern Conference.

So why is it so different in Montreal than in San Jose? Well, it's all in how it happened. As opposed to Gionta who knew his contract was expiring and that this could be a possibility, Thornton first found out about no longer being the captain from the media after Wilson had informed them of the change. Clearly, nothing had been said to Thornton, and Thornton had not requested to not be the captain anymore. Wilson made that decision. I think this would be the end of the story, and everyone would have moved on had later in the summer Thornton, Marleau, and Pavelski been named assistant captains. If it had been decided that they would have focused on the younger players, because the Sharks were now a "tomorrow team," I think it would have resolved the situation. Instead, the issue festered and continued to grow as the season wore on because there was more than likely some resentment as to what happened. Thornton who had once worn the "C," now no longer had the same responsibilities, but I think it was still odd for everyone in the locker room as to who to turn to for leadership. Here is Wilson being indecisive. He chose to take away the captaincy but instead of deciding to follow through with his "tomorrow team" and instituting a captain like Joe Pavelski, he did not make a decision as to a captain and further confused Thornton's role on the team.

A couple nights ago, I read a blog by Kostadis Roussos who had dinner with Wilson who opened up about the Sharks. First, I thought it was interesting that Wilson actually referred to his actions as a rebuild because up until now he had been pretty careful about not using that word. Going back to the captaincy and Joe Thornton, Roussos writes, "Not making Thornton or Marleau captain really is about acknowledging that the future is not about them." Okay, I can understand that, which only further infuriates me to wonder why give them a letter at all? This just makes Wilson's indecision all the more frustrating. If stripping the captaincy was supposed to be about the future, then why make them assistant captains and a part of the leadership group in the first place? Veterans like Thornton and Marleau do not need a letter on their sweaters to be leaders. Guys who have played at the level that they do and for as long as they have already garner respect from younger players. There is no need to give them a letter. If this is about the future, then Wilson should have made it about the future. Give the "C" to Pavelski or a guy who is going to be a big part of the future. The "A" can go to Logan Couture or Marc-Eduard Vlasic or Brent Burns. Be consistent and make a decision.

Roussos also reveals that Wilson has essentially given up on the idea Thornton and Marleau will be a main part of Sharks team that will win a Cup. I agree with Roussos that it will be difficult for fans to accept, but I think to some degree Sharks fans already feel that way. While fans will be disappointed if this happens, I believe that they would understand, especially depending on the talent that is brought in to replace them. And here again is where Wilson is indecisive. So if he does not believe that Thornton and Marleau will be main fixtures on a Stanley Cup San Jose Sharks team, then why does he continue to insist that he will not ask either of them to waive their no-move clauses? Wilson is doing a disservice not only to the San Jose Sharks but also to Thornton and Marleau by keeping them in San Jose. If they're not going to be leaders on the team, let them go pursue a Stanley Cup with another team.

Clearly, stripping the captaincy was Wilson's passive-aggressive way of getting the two to sign a waiver. I believe Wilson does not want to ask outright because he anticipates a fan backlash. He would rather force Thornton and Marleau to come to him, so he can say that they asked to leave. At this point, I don't think fans would blame them considering what has happened as of late.

Furthermore, I think it says a lot that Roussos reports that Wilson revealed that he started this rebuild when he traded away Ryane Clowe and Douglas Murray back in 2013. It was then that Wilson claims he continued to accumulate picks to build for a future. Again, a future that would not include Thornton and Marleau who he signed to extensions just last year. Wait, what? Yep. I can buy that Wilson wants to keep the two around to aid in the transition to the more youthful players as Roussos notes, but at some point I think he has to take a leap of faith. Wilson is going to have a make a radical move by trading one, if not both of them, at some point if he wants the Sharks to improve. He has come to a point at which that move needs to be made, and he is going to sink or swim with it. Trying something at this juncture is far better than doing nothing at all, which is pretty much what has happened. If Wilson wants to continue his post-playing career, he needs to make a bold move because people can respect that. Even if the move doesn't pan out the way he wants, at least he has tried something.

This summer is going to be an important one for the San Jose Sharks. Big changes should be expected, and hopefully, they will be changes for the better. Right now, there are a lot of questions starting with the general manager and head coaching positions. Once that is settled, there should be roster changes coming as well, and it will be interesting to see what types of moves will be made there.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Should the National Anthem Still Be Played at Sporting Events?

This afternoon I was listening to 95.7 The Game's Afternoon Delight hosted by John Lund with Matt Steinmetz and Dan Dibley. During the broadcast, Matt Steinmetz put forth the controversial view that the national anthem should not be played at sporting events because "no one respects it anymore" and it does not have a place in sports. To be clear, it is NOT a matter of his not liking it nor that it should not be played at all. The conversation started as a joke that the way to shave off time from sports games, but he questioned why the national anthem was always played at sporting events in particular and at no other events. He also argues that there are so many people who no longer listen to or give the reverence the song should have. Instead, people are on their phones texting, tweeting, or taking selfies. A lot of listeners weighed in on the issue, and I guess something struck a chord with me. I thought it was an interesting topic, so here is what I have to say about it.

In the matter of why sporting events begin with the national anthem or anthems, I disagree with Matt Steinmetz because sporting events are the only place in which playing the anthem makes any sense. Think about sports teams and what they represent. Every sports team is tied to a city, state, or province, and in a lot of ways are an extension of that place. It is often because of where a fan lives or was born that will dictate a lifetime of fandom. (Of course, this is not a rule, but it is a highly common scenario.) 95.7 The Game is broadcast throughout the Bay Area but is also the flagship of the Oakland Raiders and Oakland Athletics. A lot of callers who are from the East Bay identify with the Raiders and Athletics because that is where they have connections to or live. Callers from San Francisco tend to support the 49ers and Giants because that is where they have connections to or live. People identify with their city/state/province through sports and vice versa. There is an idea of tribalism in fandom. It is a way for fans to connect with a place and for that place to connect with its fans. Obviously, a lot of fans will cheer on the home team and because they do, sports teams will often try to give back or contribute to the community. Teams may hold blood drives, book drives, toy drives, and the like or hold lavish charity events to benefit a community hospital or charity.

Because these teams are connected to a place and its people, it becomes a part of the history. For example, think about the recent events concerning the Boston Marathon bombings. When that tragedy occurred, the Boston Bruins cancelled their home game and supported the Boston Stronger movement that followed. In fact, it was the home game following the bombing in which the most emotional anthem was played. The Boston Bruins paid tribute to the first responders and those who died or were injured in the bombings, and it was at that game that it wasn't just Rene Rancourt, the regular singer, who performed that night. The Boston Bruins represented, and continues to represent, the city of Boston. Singing the national anthem was a moment in which all those in attendance rose because it offered a way to unite and be proud of the country that they love. It was a time when the colors you wore to the game did not matter and be patriotic about your country. Teams do represent the cities, states, and provinces in their names and become part of their histories, so it is completely appropriate to play the national anthem. For fans, it is a way of being patriotic.

On the second part of Matt Steinmetz's argument that the national anthem is not necessary since people are not taking it seriously, I sort of agree. I have not seen anyone disrespect an anthem, American or Canadian, at a sporting event. However, if people are tending to be distracted by their phones or something, maybe it is a sign to switch it up a little bit. While I would not just cut the anthem out, I would think playing "America the Beautiful" or another patriotic tune in its place from time to time might be appropriate. Sometimes when we hear or see something often, it becomes too commonplace. Baseball, hockey, and basketball seasons have a lot of games. If you're going to games a lot, you might forget that the national anthem deserves respect because it becomes too much a part of the routine. You may even allot extra time to get a snack and walk to your seat during the anthem because you know it's part of the schedule. If teams notice that, it's time to make a switch and surprise the fans in attendance. And fans should hold other fans accountable. If you're at a game and someone is talking over the anthem or something, it is well within your duty to shush them!

I do believe that the national anthem should continue to be played at sporting events because it is appropriate to the event. It is a way to honor your city/state/province, and just remember to give it the respect it deserves!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Six Degrees of Jaromir Jagr

In honor of the Florida Panthers' #MulletNightinSunrise, I thought it would be fun to play Six Degrees of Jaromir Jagr. Considering his Hall of Fame career that shows little sign of slowing, I am confident that the entire hockey world, not just the NHL, has to be within six degrees of this legend. I'll get this started, and you can tweet me @SportingAJenDa, comment on the new FaceBook page (and please "like" it while you're there), or email me (thesportingajenda@gmail.com) submissions. I will update this page throughout the weekend with your submissions, so check back to see your name here!

Everyone has a Jagr number. Jagr's is 0 because he is the center of the game. Anyone who has played with, coached, or had any type of relationship with Jagr has a Jagr number of 1 because they have a direct connection. For example, Alexander Semin has a Jagr number of 1 because they were teammates on the Washington Capitals in the 2003-2004 season. Anyone who has played with, coached, or had some type of link to someone who has a Jagr number of 1 has a Jagr number of 2. This indicates they are two degrees away from Jagr. For example, Jeff Skinner has a Jagr number of 2 because while he has never played with Jagr, he currently plays on the Carolina Hurricanes with Alexander Semin. In this game, try to make the connections as direct as possible.

Tonight, the Florida Panthers are facing the Tampa Bay Lightning. Of course, the Florida Panthers team has Jagr numbers of 1, except for Jagr, because they play with the man, the myth, the legend himself. The Tampa Bay Lightning also have Jagr numbers of at least 2.

2014-2015 Tampa Bay Lightning team (2 or less) include
Matthew Carle (1) who played with
Jaromir Jagr on the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011-2012

Here is a historical link:

Lester Patrick (6) created the Pacific Coast Hockey Association in 1911 with his brother
Frank Patrick (5) who was the coach of the 1935-36 Boston Bruins that included
Woody Dumart (4) who played on the 1950-51 Boston Bruins with
Bob Armstrong (3) who played on the 1961-62 Boston Bruins with
Ed Westfall (2) who played on the 1975-76 New York Islanders with
Bryan Trottier (1) who played with
Jaromir Jagr on the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1990-91

Links to the future:

Connor McDavid (4), the potential number one pick in this year's draft, plays on the Eerie Otters with
Dylan Strome (3) whose brother
Ryan Strome (2) plays for the New York Islanders whose general manager is
Garth Snow (1) who played with
Jaromir Jagr on the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2000-01

Jack Eichel (2) plays for Boston University whose Director of Hockey Operations is
Scott Young (1) who won a Stanley Cup with
Jaromir Jagr with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991

Famous links abroad:

Lucie Vondrackova (2) is one of the Czech Republic's most successful and popular entertainers who is married to Tomas Plekanec (1) who played with
Jaromir Jagr in their hometown of Kladno during the 2012 lockout

Obviously, this is a spin of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, so let's see how many degrees of separation exist between him and Jagr. Kevin Bacon has a Jagr number of 3. In turn, Jagr has a Bacon number of 3.

Kevin Bacon (3) was in Stir of Echoes with
Kathryn Erbe (2) who was in D2: The Mighty Ducks with
Luc Robitaille (1) who played with
Jaromir Jagr on the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1994-95

Another hockey and pop culture twist:

Leonardo DiCaprio was in Celebrity with
Karen Duffy who was in Dumb & Dumber which had a cameo of
Cam Neely who played on the 1986-87 Boston Bruins with
Bill Ranford who played on the 1997-98 Washington Capitals with
Peter Bondra who played with
Jaromir Jagr on the Washington Capitals from 2001-2004

These are just a few to get you started. Look forward to see what you come up with and have fun! And don't forget to catch the Florida Panthers take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight at 7pm ET.