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St. Albert 'Travelling Jagr' dusts off mullet for No. 68's jersey retirement

'Travelling Jagr' Ryan Sellers joined the troupe and thousands of fans in Pittsburgh to wave goodbye to hockey great Jaromir Jagr's NHL jersey
The Travelling Jagrs pose for a photo in Pittsburgh at a ceremony to retire Jaromir Jagr's No. 68 jersey. SUPPLIED/Ryan Sellers

Ryan Sellers donned his mullet wig and Florida Panthers jersey once again last weekend for a bittersweet occasion: the retiring of NHL great Jaromir Jagr’s No. 68 jersey.

Sellers, a St. Albert resident, is one of the Travelling Jagrs, a group of Jaromir Jagr superfans who for nearly two decades have cheered on the 52-year-old Czech hockey player while dressed in full Jagr finery.

On Sunday, the group had one more moment in the spotlight in a packed Pittsburgh arena, chanting “It’s Jagr night in Pittsburgh!” to television cameras, playing musical chairs on the ice and hyping up the crowd.

“You should see the amount of joy,” Sellers said. “We got thousands of pictures in the last three days in Pittsburgh … They just love us. And they love what we stand for, which is just basically cheering him on.”

Now the Jagr devotees are at a crossroads. The jersey retirement signifies the closing of Jagr’s NHL career, which spanned nine NHL teams starting with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1990 and closing with the Calgary Flames in 2018.

“We're just looking at ourselves right now going, ‘okay — now, what do we do?’” Sellers said. “There's obviously going to be a Hall of Fame induction eventually, so that will be one thing for us to attend … It’s not going to stop … Suddenly, we're just kind of trying to dream and see where it takes us.”

The trip also commemorated Trevor Freeman, a founding Jagrs member who passed in November 2023 from cancer.

Freeman’s father joined the gang in Pittsburgh. The two didn’t always see eye-to-eye on Trevor’s hobby, according to Sellers.

“Family and friends have been tough on us,” Sellers said. “You guys are a grown, adult men. What are you doing putting on outfits and going around with wigs on?”

But once family and friends witness the camaraderie of the Jagrs and the joy the group brings to hockey fans, they “get it,” Sellers said.

For the Pittsburgh trip, Freeman’s father represented his son as the Dallas Jagr.

Sellers’s own career as a Travelling Jagr began roughly 10 years ago. “I was in the right place at the right time,” he said.  

He befriended some Travelling Jagrs who he met through colleagues at a hockey conference for REMAX real estate agents.

Each Jagr wears a jersey that signifies a different period in Jaromir Jagr’s career. Sellers achieved Travelling Jagr status after attending a Florida trip with the group to celebrate Jagr getting signed by the Panthers. Today, he is the Florida Panthers Jagr.

It’s a big commitment. More than simply travelling to the games and picking out great wigs, the Jagrs help drum up excitement for the sport.  

“There's a lot of behind-the-scenes planning, talking to the organizers, trying to figure out agendas and dates,” he said. “We get together at the end of the day to try and figure out a new way to be funny … There's been games where we've paid to be there, but we haven't watched the game because we're on the concourse taking pictures with fans.”

Jagr’s story resonates with many hockey lovers, Sellers said. At just 18 years old, Jagr was the youngest NHL player when he joined the league in 1990. He was faced with an unfamiliar culture and didn’t have a firm grasp of English. His distinctive mullet and love of fast cars excited a growing hockey fan base that found him charming and unique.

“People just loved it and embraced him as being different,” Sellers said.  

These days, the Travelling Jagrs are not as starstruck by the hockey legend. “He knows us,” Sellers said. “He gets us.”

“For the first little bit, he thought we were heckling him … But now he understands that we're there to spread joy. We're there to have fun. And he really shifted gears when he got traded to Calgary and embraced us there.”

Regardless of Jagr’s future in the sport, the Travelling Jagrs don’t plan on hanging up their mullets any time soon.

“It's bigger than just one person, bigger than just the Jagrs,” Sellers said.  “It’s about the fans of one of the greatest players of all time.”

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