“The fact that you’re even calling me about this is sweet.”
If you’re not familiar with The Travelling Jagrs, they're the Alberta-based group of buddies who dress up in full attire, mullets and all, to attend games featuring their favourite player – Jaromir Jagr. They are sure to be fixtures at the Scotiabank Saddledome this season now that Jagr will be wearing the Flaming 'C.'
What puzzled Keller and his crew the most was that it took so long for a NHL team to sign the 45-year-old future Hall of Famer.
“All summer long we were wondering ‘How have they not signed him yet?’ I understand they have to look at young players. But it was almost like [signing him] was some kind of risk or something.”
For Keller and his crew it was always a no-brainer that the NHL’s second all-time leading scorer would end up in the league for one more season.
“He’s still getting 40 points a season. There are a lot of good players in the league who didn’t put up more points than him last year. I don’t know how he doesn’t help every team he’s been on. Just wait until he dons a Flames jersey, he’s going to be larger than life out there. How exciting is that? I think it’s really cool.”
Since Jagr returned from a three-year stint in the KHL, The Travelling Jagrs have not missed a game he’s played in either Calgary or Edmonton. They’ve also built up a cult following going to games across the continent to see their idol in person.
The fact that Jagr will now be playing a full season close to home, Keller admits, does present some new challenges, and opportunities.
“I have a feeling that some new people are going to take on this role as well, other fans. But we’ve already been talking to sponsors out there who want to make sure we can go to every game. We’ve got a casino willing to give us hotel rooms every game night. It’s crazy.”
Still, Keller says the Travelling Jagrs want to check out a couple of road games. Las Vegas is an obvious possibility now that the Golden Knights are in the NHL. They also want to be there when Jagr passes Gordie Howe for the most games played in the NHL.
Keller, a long-time player with the Innisfail Eagles who now lives in Camrose, admits Jagr’s arrival in Calgary has led to a surge in popularity for his crew – if that were even possible.
The big question, and a somewhat obvious one, is who will be the lucky person to wear a Flames jersey as an official member of The Travelling Jagrs?
“Our whole idea was to make guys wear Flames practice jerseys to a game. Take maybe three to five guys and make them earn it. Because what are you going to do, just give it to someone?’ It’ll be fun, there’s no way it won’t.”
Regardless of how said tryout unfolds, you can be sure The Travelling Jagrs will receive a hero’s welcome from fans when they arrive for the Flames hope opener on Saturday.
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