- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 18, 2001

Washington Capitals right wing Jaromir Jagr is scheduled to practice today for the first time since he was injured Oct. 10, a workout that will determine whether he plays tomorrow night against the Montreal Canadiens.
Jagr, a prize offseason acquisition who is on the verge of signing one of the largest contracts in NHL history, injured a knee against the New York Rangers in the third game of the season. He has missed three games, all on the West Coast trip that ended Tuesday with a victory over the Los Angeles Kings.
Meanwhile, the status of left wing Steve Konowalchuk, who has been sidelined with an undisclosed ailment, remains unclear. He is scheduled to see a team physician today, and the club may issue a statement afterward.
Konowalchuk, one of the team's co-captains, was a medical scratch for the 3-2 overtime victory against the Kings, the first regular-season game he has missed in more than two full seasons.
"We're waiting to see what the extent of the injury is," general manager George McPhee said last night. "We're going to suspend making any comment until we have our doctor's opinion."
McPhee would not describe the injury or its location, and he refused to even say when it occurred. The left wing, a candidate for the U.S. Olympic team and a key member of what has been called the best checking line in the sport, played more than 17 minutes Saturday night in Phoenix and did not appear to be injured.
Jagr was injured 15 minutes into the first period against the Rangers when he was slew-footed (tackled from behind) by defenseman Igor Ulanov, who has been suspended for seven games for other actions in the same contest. Jagr saw physicians while the club was playing on the West Coast and was told there was no structural damage to his right knee.
But Jagr has been on skates only once since then, when he skated by himself briefly Monday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Today will be his first practice since the injury.
"Jagr's going to practice, and we'll see how he is after practice," McPhee said. The general manager said he did not know if Jagr would be available for the Canadiens game but that it has not been ruled out.
Jagr is thought to have agreed to a five-year contract extension that will pay him between $55 million and $60 million with bonuses included. The extension was reported first by The Washington Times on Oct. 10. The extension kicks in after the player's current two-year deal expires, tying him to the Caps until he is 35 and a year longer if an option year is included. Who owns the option depends on whether Jagr reaches incentives the two sides have agreed on.
The extension has been structured so that a salary of $12 million will be in one of the five years, making Jagr the highest-paid player for a single season in league history.
It is believed the agreement on the new deal was reached 10 days to two weeks ago, but the announcement was delayed in hopes the war-footing atmosphere in the region and nation would improve. It is possible the extension already has been signed but not yet filed with the league.
Jagr has won the NHL scoring title five of his 11 years in the league, including the last four in a row. He has been named for the All-Star Game 11 straight seasons, was the league MVP once, won an Olympic gold medal with the Czech Republic in 1998 and won two Stanley Cups with Pittsburgh.
Meanwhile, the Caps concluded their five-game road swing with the overtime win over the Kings, Peter Bondra putting a deflected puck past Felix Potvin 21 seconds into the extra period. It gave Washington a 2-3 record on the trip and a 3-3-0 record so far this season.
"That's as difficult as a schedule can be," McPhee said. "We've played five of six away from home, we're a .500 team and banged up. Our objectives were that if by the end of this month if we can be a .500 team at a minimum after the grueling schedule and the injuries, then we're doing just fine because we're a very good home team."


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