JAGR IS HEAD­ING HOME

FLAMES REASSIGN FOR­WARD TO KLADNO KNIGHTS

Lethbridge Herald - - FRONT PAGE - Scott Cruick­shank THE CANA­DIAN PRESS — CAL­GARY

Hockey su­per­star to fin­ish his sea­son with Czech Re­pub­lic team that he owns

The cur­tain ap­pears to have dropped on one of the finest ca­reers in Na­tional Hockey League his­tory.

On Mon­day, the Cal­gary Flames cut ties with Jaromir Jagr, as­sign­ing the vet­eran for­ward to HC Kladno of the Czech 1 Liga in the Czech Re­pub­lic.

“There were cer­tainly some glimpses of what he could do, but we weren’t able to sus­tain it enough,” said Flames gen­eral man­ager Brad Tre­liv­ing. “There was a lot of stops and starts (in his per­for­mance) and he re­ally couldn’t build a base.

“It’s dif­fi­cult. The league is quick. It’s hard if you’re 25, never mind 45.”

Jagr, who turns 46 on Feb. 15, cleared waivers Mon­day, a day af­ter be­ing waived by the Flames.

“Al­though I am very dis­ap­pointed that things did not turn out as we had hoped due to a num­ber of cir­cum­stances,” Jagr, a Kladno na­tive, said in a state­ment. “I am deeply grate­ful to the Flames, the fans and the city of Cal­gary for hav­ing wel­comed me so gen­er­ously.

“I now look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing the sea­son in Kladno.”

If Jagr is in­deed done with the NHL, he leaves an im­pres­sive body of work — 1,733 games, 766 goals, 1,155 as­sists, 1,921 points.

Only Gordie Howe (1,767) and Mark Messier (1,756) have ap­peared in more games. Only Wayne Gret­zky (894) and Howe (801) have scored more times.

And only Gret­zky (2,857) amassed more points than No. 68, who spent three full sea­sons (2008-11) with Omsk Avan­gard of the KHL.

“It’s astro­nom­i­cal, it’s nuts to think of those num­bers that he put up,” said Flames de­fence­man Travis Ha­monic. “But the cra­zi­est statis­tic is his age.”

With the Flames, how­ever, pro­duc­tion had been rel­a­tively min­i­mal for the six­foot-three 230-pound Jagr (one goal, six as­sists in 22 games). Yet Jagr’s im­pact was felt in the dress­ing room.

“He’s a leg­end in the game and a guy I’ve looked up to my whole life,” said Flames cen­tre Sean Mon­a­han. “Get­ting to meet him and know him as a per­son, and (see) the way he pre­pares and treats the game of hockey was pretty spe­cial.

“We all learned some­thing from him.”

Look­ing for of­fen­sive punch on the right side, the Flames signed Jagr on Oct. 4 — open­ing day of the reg­u­lar sea­son — to a one-year, US$1mil­lion deal. Cal­gary marked Jagr’s first Cana­dian stop and ninth NHL team over­all.

“It was a short time and, in a lot of ways, it was a per­fect storm that worked against him — not be­ing able to have a train­ing camp, then deal­ing with some in­juries,” Tre­liv­ing said. “But hav­ing said all that, we don’t re­gret the ex­pe­ri­ence, we don’t re­gret the de­ci­sion to bring him here.

“We thank him and I think we’re bet­ter for the ex­pe­ri­ence of hav­ing had him.”

Jagr’s fi­nal point was an even­strength as­sist on Mark Jankowski’s game-open­ing goal in a 3-0 tri­umph Nov. 30 against the Ari­zona Coy­otes.

“We all know he was strug­gling with (an in­jury) here,” said Flames winger Michael Fro­lik, who’s also from Kladno. “He was al­ways healthy in his ca­reer, so it was some­thing new for him.

“It def­i­nitely sucks, but we’ll see what hap­pens. The mo­ti­va­tion (to re­turn) is still there, I think.”

At the 1990 NHL draft, Jagr was se­lected fifth over­all — be­hind Owen Nolan, Petr Nedved, Keith Primeau, Mike Ricci — by the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins, with whom he won two Stan­ley Cups (1991, 1992).

Cana­dian Press photo

Nashville Preda­tors’ An­thony Bitetto, left, col­lides with Cal­gary Flames’ Jaromir Jagr dur­ing NHL ac­tion in Cal­gary last De­cem­ber.

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