Jagr didn't have a storybook first game with the Panthers (he was held off the scoresheet against the Buffalo Sabres in a 5-3 win), but all that mattered to him was the result.
"I wish I could score, but it doesn't matter. We won," Jagr said. "It's new motivation. When you come to a new team, you just want the first game to be a victory and I'm happy about that."
The Panthers acquired the likely Hall of Fame member Thursday in a trade with the New Jersey Devils hoping he not only could provide some offense but help guide the young players in a Stanley Cup Playoff race.
Jagr, whose role had diminished in New Jersey, got 17:09 of ice time, including 5:24 on the power play. It was his most action since Jan. 30 when he played 18:08 against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
His one good scoring chance came in the second period when his wrist shot from the right circle was turned away by a pad save from Sabres goalie Michal Neuvirth.
Although Jagr's point drought reached a career-long nine games, he did contribute to Brandon Pirri's two power-play goals by getting in front of Neuvirth on each occasion.
"He's a special player and he gives [his teammates] more ice because people are covering him," Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. "They don't want to see Jaromir Jagr wide open. He makes good plays. He makes people around him better. Today was a great example of our team playing better because he was there."
Jagr's introduction drew loud applause and he opened the game playing on a line with players who weren't born when he made his NHL debut during the 1990-91 season: 19-year-old center Aleksander Barkov and 21-year-old left wing Jonathan Huberdeau.
"You know what, they're good players," Jagr said. "They make it a lot easier for me. We spent so much time in the offensive zone. I thought I was going to feel a lot worse because lately I didn’t play much, but because we spent so much time in the offensive zone and you’ve got the puck under control, so it was a little bit easier for me today. And they make it good for me. These kids, they're making plays. We had some chances. We just have to score goals. We had a lot of shots as a team. We just have to make sure we score more.
"I've got a lot of experience and there's a lot of young guys. It's even making me excited a little more. It's kind of a new life. At my age (43), I feel like I know a lot of things what to do, but I just cannot do it anymore. It's a lot easier to tell them what to do because they've still got the legs and hands to do it. I just know things, but I cannot do them anymore."
Jagr stepped onto the ice for the game after arriving in South Florida on Friday evening. He showed up at BB&T Center about 2 1/2 hours before the opening faceoff.
"I was a little intimidated to just go see him, but we didn't really have a chance to talk," Huberdeau said. “He told me a little thing on the bench, so I think he's going to be a good mentor for me to follow. He's an All-Star, has Stanley Cups. I remember seeing him with Mario Lemieux with Pittsburgh. I think he's going to help me and [Barkov] if we play with him."
Jagr said the past few days were a whirlwind and playing his first game with the Panthers without benefit of a practice or even a morning skate made it a little strange.
"He's a big body, a great player and it's nice to have him here," said forward Scottie Upshall, who scored the game-winning goal with 5:58 left in the third period. "Good for our team, good for our young guys. We're expecting him to help us do good things."