Jaromir Jagr will sit out Flames’ home opener against Jets

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CALGARY -- The living legend that is Jaromir Jagr skated this morning but won't make his 2017-18 NHL season debut tonight against the Winnipeg Jets.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 07/10/2017 (1880 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

CALGARY — The living legend that is Jaromir Jagr skated this morning but won’t make his 2017-18 NHL season debut tonight against the Winnipeg Jets.

The newest mamber of the Calgary Flames has decided not to play in tonight’s Flames’ home opener, feeling he isn’t quite ready for prime time after signing a one-year, US$1 million deal with the team earlier in the week.

The 45-year-old winger only got into town Wednesday from the Czech Republic and has been on the ice just a couple of times since then.

LARRY MACDOUGAL / CANADIAN PRESS FILES Jaromir Jagr has a laugh after being introduced as the newest Calgary Flames player at a press conference in Calgary on Wednesday.

Calgary coach Glen Gulutzan said Jagr, the NHL’s second all-time leading point-getter (1,914) behind only Wayne Gretzky (2,857), will determine the appropriate time to begin his 24th season in the league.

“He’s out. It’s just like Day 2 of training camp (for him), so he’s not playing,” said Gulutzan, following a morning skate at the Saddledome. “He said he felt a lot better the second day than he did the first, and that he probably needs a couple more good skates.

“We skated him both days, and after practice he said he needed a couple more.”

Jagr had skated with Sam Bennett and Kris Versteeg but his spot will be taken by Curtis Lazar.

The Jets and Flames hook up 9 p.m. CT, and both clubs are in search of their first wins of the season. The Jets where thumped 7-2 at home Wednesday by the Toronto Maple Leafs, while the Flames were blanked 3-0 by the host Edmonton Oilers on the same night.

Winnipeg goalie Steve Mason gets the start, while forward Nic Petan draws into the lineup in place of Marko Dano. Petan took line rushes this morning with Adam Lowry and Shawn Matthias.

Mason, who was pulled early after surrendering five goals on 20 shots against Toronto, said the squad is looking for a solid rebound performance.

“It’d be nice to get into the win column here. The first game didn’t go the way we wanted. We understand that, but in the big picture it’s one of 82 and we have a great opportunity to get back into a good feeling,” said Mason.

“You just have a short memory. You put it behind you. You can’t dwell on things like that. If you dwell on it too long it’ll eat you up.”

The Jets head to Edmonton immediately after the game and take on the Oilers Monday night, before clashing with the host Vancouver Canucks on Thursday.

Following Calgary’s on-ice session, Gulutzan said Jagr, the 6-3, 215-pound product of Kladno, Czech Republic, is in “is pretty remarkable” shape.

“I thought he was very good (Friday). For a 45-year-old guy to come in with no training camp and is, arguably, one of our best guys (Friday) …but he needs a couple more days to get up to game speed.

“We talked before he came in, and he said he was skating in the Czech but it’s not the same and he’ll see how he feels.”

Jagr didn’t talk to reporters after the skate, however, several of his new teammates admitted they’re in awe of the two-time Stanley Cup champion (1991 and ’92 with Pittsburgh), who was the league’s top scorer five times and its MVP in 1999.

Former Jets forward Michael Frolik hails from the same home town and he’s blown away that he’ll go to battle with a guy he idolized pretty much his entire life.

“You can see he’s a big presence when he walks in this room here,” he said. “I would never have imagined growing up that I could be in the same room with him. It’s pretty exciting… he’s still got it, too, and I can’t wait when he steps onto the ice and he can help us.”

He was just six or seven years old when Jagr stopped by the rink to skate with Frolik’s minor-hockey squad back home.

Frolik said he still has picture of himself with the superstar in a box somewhere.

“We met him when he skated with us on the ice, so it was pretty cool,” he said. “He was like a big hero in Czech. I remember growing up and he was a god to us.”

Frolik played with Jagr on their country’s 2011 world hockey championship and 2014 Olympic squads. They also played a few games together in Kladno during the NHL lockout in 2005.

Calgary forward Johnny Gaudreau, who was born a year after Jagr had already won back-to-back Cups with the Penguins, said he was tongue-tied just trying to introduce himself.

“What he’s done and being a fan all my life growing up, I was talking to him a little bit and it was hard getting the words out,” he said. “That’ll change really quickly being around him and getting to know him. But it’s pretty speci to say you get to play with Jaromir Jagr, it’s pretty cool.

“He’s been great. He’s fitting in really well with us, which is easy. Most hockey guys, it doesn’t matter where you come from, it’s easy to fit into the locker room. I’m really looking forward to the season. He’s going to be a good addition to our team and help us win games.”

jason.bell@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @WFPJasonBell

Jason Bell

Jason Bell
Sports editor

Jason Bell wanted to be a lawyer when he was a kid. The movie The Paper Chase got him hooked on the idea of law school and, possibly, falling in love with someone exactly like Lindsay Wagner (before she went all bionic).

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