CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward and Pittsburgh native Brandon Saad has received plenty of compliments throughout his rookie season, but he was especially honored to given one by the Boston Bruins' Jaromir Jagr, one of his childhood heroes, prior to the Stanley Cup finals.
Saad was born in Pittsburgh on Oct. 27, 1992 and grew up watching Jagr play for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Jagr was with the Penguins from 1990-2001.
Jagr said Tuesday he didn't realize he had made such an impact on young players in Pittsburgh, but he thought Saad was on his way to becoming his own star.
"You don't kind of realize it until you hear that," the 41-year-old Jagr said. "I watch him. He's a pretty good player. He's pretty good. He's going to be even better. He's got everything what you need to be a good hockey player.
The 20-year-old Saad said Wednesday prior to Game 1 he was honored by Jagr's words.
"For sure, that means a lot," Saad said. "To be watching him and being one of the idols of hockey when I was growing up and being in Pittsburgh and seeing the things he's done, he's an amazing player. For him to say that about me means a lot, for sure."
Saad said he has plenty of memories of watching Jagr growing up. Saad was born just after Jagr and Penguins won their second consecutive Stanley Cup in 1992.
"He was one of the best players in the league obviously," Saad said. "Playing with [Mario] Lemieux there, I watched hockey a lot and the way he played the game. His style of game is something I definitely looked to become, and he's obviously a good player."
Saad played against Jagr earlier in the season when Jagr was with the Dallas Stars, but Saad was looking forward to the opportunity again.
"It's pretty unbelievable," Saad said. "I got to play him earlier this year. To be at this stage playing him, it's a surreal moment for me."