Thursday, May 10, 2012

Flyers' players want Jagr back in 2012-13

VOORHEES — Jaromir Jagr went to great pains following the Flyers’ elimination loss Tuesday night to express how much he enjoyed this season. He made it clear Thursday he plans on playing in the NHL next season.
Just one thing Jagr’s not quite sure of yet — where he’d like to play.
Jagr plans on staying in the area until the start of the free agency shopping season July 1, but couldn’t say whether he’d be leaving for good after that.
“I want to play somewhere where I know the team wants me, too,” Jagr said. “Hopefully we’re going to find some team where I can play. I still love the game. I think I’m going to be better than I was this year.”
Jagr insisted he didn’t feel unwelcome. He knows better. And if he doesn’t, all he had to do was hang around Thursday and listen ...

“I’d like to see Jags back,” Jagr’s linemate Scott Hartnell said. “Forty years old, to skate the way he does and to be as strong as he is on puck battles. He was a big mentor for me. I thought he’d be arrogant and cocky and definitely he turned out to be one of the best guys I ever played with.
“He’s humble and even though he’s won it all, I think he really enjoyed hockey this year.”
While Hartnell had a mid-career offensive renaissance he can credit partially to Jagr, it is their top-line leader Claude Giroux who may be the guy that launches a lobbying campaign with Jagr.
“We did (that) all year, I think,” Giroux said with a smile. “I’m not sure what the plans are, but it would be great to have him back. … He is a good team player and he has helped so many guys in this room on and off the ice.”
Jagr’s agent, former Flyers player Petr Svoboda, conducted a bit of a bidding war last summer and it’s expected that may happen again unless the Flyers get proactive with their desire to re-sign Jagr. He credited Svoboda with talking him into coming back to the NHL after spending the previous three years playing in Russia.
“If he didn’t push me, I probably would have stayed in Europe,” Jagr said. “He told me it would probably be a good idea to come back and play again, and I’m glad I listened to him, because this was probably the best year ... the most fun I ever had.
“I don’t know what kind of direction Philadelphia is going to go. But what’s my situation going to be? And I don’t think they know (theirs) right now. That’s why you have a long summer to think about it; to talk about it.”
Part of the conversation might be an anticipated labor war between the NHL and its players association. While Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said Thursday that wouldn’t impact any personnel decisions he may make during the offseason, he also agreed to stop Jagr contract extension talks earlier in the season with Svoboda.
Jagr told the Daily Times that had something to do with Svoboda’s personal schedule. He had to go back to Europe for two months to help tend to his ill parents. The talks are still on hold.
“I can still see Jaromir being a good player in our league next year,” Holmgren said. “I’d like to have him back. We’ll see. I think there will be other teams that would like to have him on their team, too.”
Asked about his talks with Svoboda, Holmgren said, “We kind of agreed to talk about it more after the season was done, but I have not met with Jaromir yet, so we’ll see.”
Perhaps playing into the decision will be Jagr’s perception of whether he can again get playing time on the top line. He was demoted during the playoffs to a third line, but that had a lot to do with Peter Laviolette’s rather desperate search for anything to work offensively against the Devils.
“It was fine with me,” Jagr said. “Sometimes I thought I could be better (if) I played a little bit more than I played, but I think everybody feels that way. If I wouldn’t feel that way then I shouldn’t play in the NHL. But I was never upset.”


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