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Jagr says it was ‘important’ to play for Devils after Kovalchuk retirement

Jul 23, 2013, 5:17 PM EDT

Tomas Rolinek, Jaromir Jagr AP

At 41, Jaromir Jagr wasn’t surprised to find just a handful of suitors for the upcoming campaign.

But that’s not to say one didn’t stand out above the rest.

On Tuesday, Jagr officially signed with New Jersey — a one-year deal with $2 million in base salary that could hit $4 million with bonuses — and said it was “important” to play for the Devils.

“Not many teams are looking for a forward my age, especially with the salary cap going down,” Jagr said, as per NHL.com. “My agent [Petr Svoboda] asked if I would be willing to play for New Jersey and I was. I talked to Lou [Lamoriello] even before [Ilya] Kovalchuk retired and after he retired.

“I felt it was even more important for me to play on the Devils roster [after Kovalchuk's NHL retirement].”

Kovalchuk, who stunningly retired from the NHL with 14 years and $77 million remaining on his contract, will be tough to replace. He led the team in goals in his first two seasons and, during the 2011-12 campaign, scored 83 points in 77 games and 19 in 23 playoff games as New Jersey made a surprising run to the Stanley Cup finals.

That said, Jagr might be better equipped to replace Kovalcuk than most figure.

For one, No. 68 actually had the superior 2013 campaign, scoring 35 points to Kovalchuk’s 31 (granted, Kovalchuk played in eight fewer games).

There’s also the not-so-small fact that Jagr played a marathon season altogether, and showed great resilience despite turning 41 in February.

“I know people will say we had a shortened season last year, but it was the longest season for me,” Jagr said. “Counting my time in Europe and the NHL regular season and playoffs, I played in the most games ever in one season.”

Jagr played 34 games with Kladno in the Czech league and another 34 with Dallas before getting dealt to Boston. From there, he appeared in 11 regular season contests with the Bruins, then 22 playoff games.

So, 101 games all told.

As such, the sure-fire Hall of Famer figures he’s in better shape heading into 2013-14, which should be a breeze compared to last year.

“That’s the most games I’ve ever played,” he explained. “(This) is going to be a short season.”

  1. 950003cups - Jul 23, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    He shaved his beard! Lou doesn’t break policy for nobody! LOL

    http://devils.nhl.com/?navid=nav-teamnav-njd

    • elwaysagenius - Jul 23, 2013 at 5:35 PM

      Nor should he, nobody in the league is above their respective team.

      • geshtahl - Jul 23, 2013 at 5:51 PM

        Except for anyone who plays for Phoenix… or Florida.

      • blomfeld - Jul 23, 2013 at 6:04 PM

        “nobody in the league is above their respective team”

        LOL !!! :) … sure pal, go tell that to Kovi, Ovi, Rad, Loo, etc …

    • nj666 - Jul 23, 2013 at 6:00 PM

      yeah thats photoshopped… and its “anybody”

    • dudermcrbohan - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:38 PM

      It’s the same picture he had last year when he was on the Stars/Bruins. They just shopped the NJ Jersey on him bro. lol.

  2. sheckyrimshot - Jul 23, 2013 at 5:58 PM

    i hope this guy plays until he’s 50. for a different team every year. like a samurai with no lord, roving the country, dropping knowledge wherever he goes.

    • m1k3g - Jul 23, 2013 at 6:05 PM

      Or as we penguins fans like to refer to him…

      “The Whore from Kladno”

    • 19to77 - Jul 23, 2013 at 6:16 PM

      A wise travelling hockey sage, offering Yoda-like wisdom to young players two generations his junior from beneath a magnificent set of silvery mutton chops.

  3. pensman29 - Jul 23, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    I’ve never heard that expression in my life.

  4. pensman29 - Jul 23, 2013 at 6:12 PM

    …BUT I LIKE IT!

  5. girouxed - Jul 23, 2013 at 6:15 PM

    Lol penguins fans

    • biasedhomer - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:51 AM

      They just can’t let it go. And most of them have never even seen Jagr in a Pens jersey before.

  6. chrisk61 - Jul 23, 2013 at 7:16 PM

    jagr’s seasonal movement at this time in his career makes him looks bad and is cheapening his legacy. 4 teams between last 2 yrs and upcoming season. i have to agree with the pens fans on this one. although they are bitter because he opted to sign with the flyers and not the pens when he returned to the nhl. i am more objective but still agree with the pens fans overall sentiment.

    the whore from kladno. kinda like the slut from upper st clair…

    • hockeyflow33 - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:12 PM

      So even though teams want him to play for them he shouldn’t because a bunch of nobodies say so?

  7. jacketsfan7 - Jul 23, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    Or maybe because they offered the most money is why he went to NJ

    • hockeyflow33 - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:13 PM

      Do you leave money on the table when you’re negotiating a new job?

      Where do you people come from?

      • biasedhomer - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:47 AM

        I could never understand this. People seem to forget, all sports are jobs. Those people have lives outside of hockey.
        This is why I can never fault a player for taking a large contract and ending up overpaid when he underachieves. I would have done the same thing.

  8. nyjetblue - Jul 23, 2013 at 8:12 PM

    The man want to play for a team that wants him. No more, no less. Hockey players just love to play hockey. 2 mil is chump change in this league and if he can attain the goals set for him I hope he makes every penny of 4 mil.

  9. letsgopens8771 - Jul 23, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    Whatever you say, Jags. Whatever you say.

  10. slysipops - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:25 PM

    of course it’s important for him to play for the DEVILS……$2 million worth of important ! plus it’s not like NJ is overstocked with forwards, so who will he be compared to ? might be some other AARP members that the DEVILS will pick up next?

  11. pitpenguinsrulez - Jul 23, 2013 at 9:31 PM

    Sure Penguin fans are bitter with Jagr not resigning with us in 2011. But many casual and bandwagon fans fail to realize that Jagr burned his bridges with the Pens after the 2000-2001 season. Jagr wanted a trade out of Pittsburgh because once Lemieux came back he knew right then and there that this was now Mario’s team and not his. His ghost like performance in the 2001 Eastern Conference Final vs Jersey didn’t help his reputation much. Sure Ive disliked Jagr since then but real Penguin fans should remember the memorable performance Jagr put on in the 1999 Eastern Conference Quarters vs Jersey.

    …And as stated by someone else in the comments (using the app) 4 teams in 2 years does help to ruin part of his legacy.

    • hockeyflow33 - Jul 23, 2013 at 10:15 PM

      So playing at an advanced age in a league that gets younger and younger is a bad thing? It’s always great to have such well-thought out comments on here

      • m1k3g - Jul 23, 2013 at 11:32 PM

        Jaromir Jagr: 2001-present

        2001: Whines his way off a team on which he is the defacto leader at a time many consider him to be the best player in the game. All after winning 2 Stanley Cups and being on the team 11 years.

        2001-2004: Plays well for the Caps, but never quite lives up to expectations. Disappointed, the Caps trade him to NYR.

        2004-2008: Plays well for the Rangers, but once again his team never quite gets the job done. At this point, Jagr realizes he can no longer take the pressure of being ‘the’ guy on an NHL squad and that he can make more money playing in Russia.

        2008-2011: After begging multiple teams to give him another chance in the NHL, the penguins finally give him serious consideration. Jagr rejects the penguins contract offer (which was far greater than the league-minimum that he claimed he’d sign with them for) and signs with the flyers.

        2011-2012: Plays quite well for the Flyers and it’s a foregone conclusion that he will sign with them for at least one more campaign. Suddenly, overnight, the flyers interest in him evaporates. He signs with highest-bidder Dallas.

        2012-2013: Starts out like gangbusters for Dallas and then begins to fade. Dallas trades him to Boston. Plays well down the stretch for Boston but is nearly invisible in the playoffs. Boston declines to offer him a contract extension.

        2013-2014: Signs with NJD.

        Let me sum it up for you; every single NHL team he has been on has either traded him or told him “thanks, but no thanks” (after one season or less multiple times, no less). If people need to explain to you why that looks bad, you’re probably never going to get it.

        Bottom line, he was a heck of a player, but less than stellar citizen.

      • hockeyflow33 - Jul 24, 2013 at 12:55 AM

        Besides cherry-picking facts about his time with teams, you can’t seem to grasp that when a team trades for you, they WANT you to play for them. It’s great that Pittsburgh fans spend more time whining than Crosby but enough is enough. The guy can still play in the NHL and do you know how we know?

        Teams keep signing him.

      • m1k3g - Jul 24, 2013 at 12:19 PM

        Yep, teams keep signing him (usually ones that are in a pickle).

        Then at some point they realize “Oh, that’s what the other teams were talking about.”

        ….and decide that one go on that ride was enough. Then Jagr moves on to his next victim, er, I mean team.

    • biasedhomer - Jul 24, 2013 at 9:50 AM

      By “many casual and bandwagon fans”, you mean “most Pens fans”, then it all makes sense.

  12. mattyo99 - Jul 24, 2013 at 1:50 AM

    I think he just wants too play on a team where he can be on line 1 or 2..at 41 he probaly just wants too play and make the most $$$$ possible..i dnt blame him, i’d play on any NHL team, minus pittsburgh😜na jk, i would play for the pens in my fantasy life

  13. bronxsanman - Jul 24, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    Good luck JAGS! This from a lifelong Rangers fan who appreciated all your time here.I’m sure you’ll bring it every time we face-off against you.

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