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Bourque Says Penguins, Jaromir Jagr on Path to Retire No. 68



Pittsburgh Penguins, Jaromir Jagr, Mario Lemieux

Pittsburgh Penguins radio analyst Phil Bourque said the Penguins will retire Jaromir Jagr’s iconic No. 68 and were made an indirect offer to do so later this season, but Jagr put one condition on it.

On the 32 Thoughts podcast recorded during the Winter Classic weekend at Fenway Park, Bourque recounted the story of traveling to Czechia to meet Jagr in 2020.

“I wanted to plant that seed with him, ‘that you are loved in Pittsburgh,'” Bourque told Jagr and recounted to hosts Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek. “I just want you to close your eyes for a second and imagine what that night is going to be like. You know Mario is going to be there. That No. 68 up in the rafters next to 66.”

First, Jagr must stop playing. The soon-to-be 51-year-old winger scored 1921 points (2nd most all-time) and 766 goals in his 24-year NHL career. He continues to play, albeit part-time, for the Czech team he owns, Kladno Knights but doesn’t want to see his jersey in the rafters until he is done.

Officially done, done.

“He said, ‘Bourqey, I haven’t retired yet.’ That was his thing,” said Bourque. “He said, ‘Once I retire, I’ll be all for it. We can talk about the logistics and everything.”

In the past year, Jagr, who turns 51 in February, has expressed something akin to melancholy about his career, lamenting a lack of family and people close to him while he worked out past 11 p.m. He’s also expressed frustration that running the team keeps him off the ice.

This season, Jagr has played in 11 games for Kladno. Remarkably, he has seven points (1-6-7) and eight penalty minutes.

Bourque said the Penguins were considering April for the ceremony, but Jagr pumped the brakes.

The Pittsburgh Penguins have only retired two numbers in their 55-year history. The team officially retired No. 21 for Michel Briere, the talented rookie who died from injuries sustained in a car accident just days after the 1969-1970 season. And, of course, the Penguins retired No. 66 twice for Mario Lemieux.

Lemieux’s number was originally retired in 1997 but removed from the rafters when he returned to the NHL on Dec. 27, 2001.

Jagr and Lemieux won two Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992.

Jaromir Jagr never again won the Stanley Cup, despite 22 more NHL seasons.