You are currently viewing the printable version of this article, to return to the normal page, please click here.

Flyers F Jagr happy for NHL comeback

VOORHEES, N.J. (AP) - When Jaromir Jagr left three years ago to play in Russia, he thought his NHL career was over.

At 39, Jagr is back and with something to prove.

Jagr surprised the league when he signed a one-year contract this summer with the Philadelphia Flyers, trying to win a Stanley Cup and play at an All-Star level even at an age when most players have considered retirement.

"There's probably a lot of people wondering if I still can play. It's fine with me," Jagr said Saturday. "I'm not 21, trying to prove something with my words. We'll just have to wait and see. I can promise you one thing, that I'm going to give it my best shot to play on a high level."

That what the Flyers are counting on as they chase their first championship since 1975.

Jagr joked that he thought "what am I doing?" as he pulled on the Flyers sweater for the first time. He hit the ice with his new team for the first time this weekend, and expects to become a valuable contributor to a team that underwent a massive roster shakeup over the summer.

Jagr's acquisition is a big part of the Flyers' offseason overhaul that has seen them jettison key cogs Mike Richards, Jeff Carter, Ville Leino and Brian Boucher, among others.

Jagr will be looked upon to provide some of that scoring punch. He has 646 career NHL goals, and on opening night, he will be the NHL's active scoring leader with 1,599 points.

Jagr was a Pittsburgh draft pick in 1990, and helped lead the Penguins to two Stanley Cup championships.

He wants to bring the Cup back to Philadelphia.

"I think this team has a big shot to do it," he said, "and I want to be part of it."

Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren took a gamble because Jagr is in tremendous shape, a natural leader, and still has one of the hardest shots on the team.

"Watching them all those years with Pittsburgh and then with the Rangers, he's a star. He's been a star," Holmgren said. "Our decision in the summertime to pursue him, and it was just a shot in the dark as you remember, you have an opportunity to add one of the best offensive players who's ever played the game."

A Czech native, Jagr won an Olympic gold medal in 1998 and a bronze in 2006. He also won two Ice Hockey World Championships in 2005 and 2010. The Penguins pursued him and hoped he would return to the franchise. Instead, he spurned them to play for one of their fiercest rivals.

Jagr said he didn't expect Penguins fans to be disappointed in his decision.

"I never thought that Pittsburgh fans would want me back," Jagr said. "Every time I played there, they were booing me every time I touched the puck. I didn't think it would be such a big deal that I didn't sign with Pittsburgh."

While most of the Flyers had been skating for weeks at the team's practice facility, Jagr hit the ice for the first time Friday. He knew, and was friends with, some of the players killed in the jet crash carrying the KHL's Lokomotiv Yaroslavl. Jagr stayed behind and attended memorial services.

"Sometimes life can be tough, for everybody," Jagr said. "Sometimes life brings you something sad, and you just have to feel sorry for the families of the players. You just have to sometimes think that life is a little bit more than anything (here)."

Holmgren expected Jagr to become a leader in the locker room. The Flyers named defenseman Chris Pronger team captain on Friday, giving them a pair of veterans on both sides of the ice who know how to win championships and set an example.

Jagr proved his mettle when he refused to consider a multiyear contract but he didn't know how much he had left.

"If I was confident I could be very good for this team and could help them a lot, I would be thinking more," he said. "But right now I don't know. And I don't want to have two years and be here just to be here.

"I want to be a plus for this team."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Get Adobe Flash player
You Might Also Like
  • Argentina's Maxi Rodriguez, left, celebrates with goalkeeper Sergio Romero after scoring the decisive goal during the World Cup semifinal soccer match between the Netherlands and Argentina at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Wednesday, July 9, 2014. Argentina beat the Netherlands 4-2 in a penalty shootout to reach the World Cup final. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

    Argentina beats Dutch in shootout to reach World Cup final

  • Washington Redskins safety Tanard Jackson speaks during a media availability after an NFL football training camp practice at Redskins Park, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012 in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Tanard Jackson suspended indefinitely by NFL — again

  • Washington Wizards forward Otto Porter Jr. (22) looks to pass in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Miami Heat, Monday, April 14, 2014, in Washington. The Wizards won 114-93. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Wizards’ Otto Porter, Glen Rice Jr. hoping for big splash on small stage

  • Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) is surrounded by fans that rushed the field and security as he is escorted off the field following their 45-38 win over Oklahoma in an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 19, 2011, in Waco, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

    SNYDER: RG3 worth his weight in bronze to Baylor

  • Baltimore Orioles' Manny Machado (13), celebrates his two-run homer with Adam Jones left, with Nick Markakis, at right, during the 11th inning of an interleague baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Monday, July 7, 2014, in Washington. The Orioles won 8-2, in 11 innings. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

    Accidental rivalry: Nats-Orioles doesn’t have much edge

  • Celebrities In The News
  • (Image from DeAngelo Williams' Facebook post)

    NFL star likely fooled by Marine impostor who accepted first-class plane ticket

  • ** FILE ** In this Oct. 1, 2013, file photo actor George Clooney attends the premiere of "Gravity" at the AMC Lincoln Square Theaters, in New York. George Clooney has chastised a British newspaper over an article claiming his fiancee's mother disapproves of the impending marriage for religious reasons. Clooney said that the claims about his future mother-in-law Baria Alamuddin were untrue and irresponsible. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

    Website apologizes for Clooney mother-in-law story

  • Kim Kardashian arrives at the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment 2014 Upfront at the Javits Center on Thursday, May 15, 2014, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

    Kim Kardashian visits Jersey shore