Jaromir Jagr has a job, if he wants it.
It just isn’t the job he wants — although he may end up taking it anyway.
The Florida Panthers and Jagr parted ways this summer after the Panthers didn’t offer the 45-year-old forward a contract.
Jagr, who had spent a big portion of the offseason working out at the team’s training facility in Coral Springs, is said to be back home in Czech Republic working out with his hometown team Kladno.
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Since no other NHL team has signed Jagr, it’s no stretch to think Jagr could start his season with Kladno — and it doesn’t hurt that he owns the team as well.
By starting in Kladno, a team which plays in the top professional league in the Czech Republic, Jagr wouldn’t be contractually bound to a team if an NHL team were to come calling.
If he signed with a team in the higher-level KHL, that wouldn’t be the case.
Jagr says he’s still holding out for a gig in the NHL.
“I still have a few days before the camp starts,” Jagr told Czech television as reported by AFP news, “but even if we don't make it before the camp, I hope I will get a chance somewhere. There are many teams which don't have a complete roster. I love NHL hockey, that's why I'm willing to wait.”
The Kladno Knights, for what it’s worth, tweeted out pictures of its jerseys for the upcoming season.
The name and number on the back?
Jagr and his iconic No. 68.
Jagr could also participate in the coming winter Olympics in South Korea if he plays in Europe and isn’t on an NHL roster something he has hinted at throughout the summer and reiterated to Czech television.
The NHL isn’t releasing its players to the Olympics meaning a player such as Jagr — if he’s available — would be a nice get for the Czech national team.
“I would have to be ready and be good, but if I were and the coaches asked me, I would say yes, of course,” Jagr said. “I don't feel like it right now, but ... on the other hand I would have a lot of time to get ready.”
The Panthers open training camp this week in Coral Springs and, unless something big happens, they will do so without Jagr for the first time since trading for him near the end of the 2014-15 season.
Jagr played for Kladno before joining the Pittsburgh Penguins and being part of consecutive Stanley Cup championships from 1991-92. He returned there during NHL labor strife in 1994, 2004 and 2012.
Last season, Jagr scored 16 goals (fourth on the team) with 46 points (fourth); in 181 games with Florida, he has 49 goals and 130 points.
Jagr completed his 23rd NHL season last year and is second on the NHL’s all-time scoring list behind Wayme Gretzky with 1,914 points.
“It was nice to have him around, playing with him every night,” said goalie Roberto Luongo, who used to joke that between himself and Jagr, the Panthers got to celebrate ‘a milestone each night.’
“But that's part of the business. Decisions are made. I don't know if he'll be in the league or not this year. But it was sure an honor being able to play with him.”
Of his eight NHL teams, Jagr’s 181 games with the Panthers ranks fourth-most in his career.
Jagr played 806 regular season games with the Penguins (1990-2001), 277 with the Rangers (2004-08) and 190 with the Capitals (2001-04).
added Jagr, who has collected 1,914 points for 765 goals and 1,149 assists in 1,711 NHL games.
“The most important thing for me is to have fun, to extend my NHL career,” Jagr said. “But if I'm close to someone in the statistics, it would be a shame to miss the opportunity.”
JAGR IN THE NHL RECORD BOOK
▪ Scoring: 1. Wayne Gretzky 2,857; 2. JAGR 1,914.
▪ Goals: 1. Gretzky 894; 2. Gordie Howe 801; 3. JAGR 765.
▪ Assists: 1. Gretzky 1,963; 2. Ron Francis 1,249; 3. Mark Messier 1,193; 4. Ray Bourque 1,169; 5. JAGR 1,149.
▪ Games: 1. Howe 1,767; 2. Messier 1,756; 3. Francis 1,731; 4. JAGR 1,711.