Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

Winter Olympics Sochi 2014

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On Golden Ponds: Jagr Leads Olympic Club 4-0

Over-40 club highlighted by Jagr, Selanne

By Jim Iovino
|  Friday, Feb 7, 2014  |  Updated 9:18 AM EDT
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Jagr Leads Club 4-0 in Sochi

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Jaromir Jagr

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When Jaromir Jagr first came to America, he was known for his love of Kit Kats, blue jeans and mullets.

The year was 1990. He was selected with the fifth overall pick of the NHL Draft by the Pittsburgh Penguins. At the time, no one really knew how to pronounce his last name (he was announced to the draft crowd as "yay-ger" instead of the widely used "yah-ger"; and at no point in time should you ever use this pronunciation).

Here's a brief snippet of that draft day, showcasing the young Jagr in full mullet glory:

Fast-forward to 2014, and Jaromir Jagr is still playing hockey in the NHL -- at the age of 41 (he will turn 42 on Feb. 15). The love of candy and jeans probably has been replaced by a more refined taste, and the signature mullet has been tamed, and at times is accompanied by a gray-speckled beard.

He has become one of the NHL's all-time greats, but he also is a hero in his home country of the Czech Republic. He was the country's flag bearer at the 2010 Games, and will lead his nation onto the ice in Sochi for a fifth time. We won't call it a final time because, well, Jagr is still playing at an elite level. Sure, the speed isn't what it used to be, but the stickhandling is superb and the shot is accurate. He's in the top 25 in the league in scoring and is the top point producer for the New Jersey Devils as we head into the Olympic break.

But Jagr isn't the oldest player at the Sochi Games. That honor goes to Anaheim star Teemu Selanne, who at 43 will suit up for Team Finland for his sixth Olympics. The Finnish Flash has lost a lot of his firepower the last couple of years, and nearly retired after last season, but the idea of playing in one final Olympics was a big enough draw for him to return for another NHL campaign.

(And if you're wondering, according to Guinness World Records, the oldest Olympic hockey players were Bela Ordody (Hungary) and Alfred Steinka (Germany), who both played in the 1928 Games at age 48.)

Joining Jagr and Selanne in Club 4-0 in Sochi is current Detroit Red Wing Daniel Alfredsson, who will play for Team Sweden at age 41, and two former NHLers who many thought they'd never see again in elite-level competition -- Petr Nedved and Sandis Ozolinsh.

Nedved, 42, was drafted three spots ahead of Jagr in the 1990 draft, but hasn't played in the NHL since 2007. And he hasn't played in the Olympics since 1994. Back then he played for Team Canada. Now he'll suit up for the Czech Republic alongside Jagr. Yes, that sounds bizarre, but things like that happen when you defect from your home country at the age of 17. (Read more about his long, strange trip on NBCOlympics.com.)

Ozolinsh, 41, last suited up in an NHL game for San Jose in 2008. Early in his career he was a high-scoring defenseman (he scored more than 20 goals twice in the '90s), but those days are long gone. He spent the past several years playing in the KHL, and will join Latvia for his third, and probably last, Olympic adventure.

Enjoy the last Olympic hurrah for all of these members of Club 4-0, because the opportunity to see all of them on the world's stage won't happen again.

Well, except for Jagr.

Can you say Pyeongchang in '18? Don't count him out just yet. He'd only be 46...

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