A 44-Year-Old Florida Panther and 10,000 Rats

Devils lose an NHL regular season game for the ages.

As sometimes magically occurs in sports, disparate elements came together last night in Sunrise, Fla. in the most wonderful of ways, resulting in some fun media coverage. Here for example is today’s Guardian headline, appended to an AP wire story about last night’s 3-2 home victory by the Florida Panthers over the New Jersey Devils.

JagrGuardian

Thanks to a pair of assists, Panthers star Jaromir Jagr, 44, became the oldest NHL player to reach the 60-points season plateau. The Czech native has previously indicated that he hopes to keep playing professionally until he’s 50.

Meanwhile, in the third period, the home team was hit with a pair of delay-of-game penalties after fans ignored referee and scoreboard warnings and threw souvenir rubber rats on to the ice after the second and third Panthers goals. The items were handed out before the game in honor of the 20th anniversary of the Panthers’ magical run to the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals.

Everywhere we looked this morning, outlets were having fun with the coverage. From CBS Sports hockey writer Adam Gretz, who wrote that ‘the game featured what was almost certainly the first rat penalties in league history,’ to SB Nation game recapper Kevin Kraczkowski and the headline “Kalinen Up the Rats” (a nod to Russian-born Devils player Sergei Kalinen). For the best rodents-conspiracy take, read the dispatch by NESN’s Mike Cole.

As Gretz also noted, in the crowd last night were The Traveling Jagrs, a group of eight fans from Western Canada who attend games. Their man is currently the leading scorer on the Panthers and among the top 25 this season in the NHL.