Jágr headed for hometown Kladno from Calgary Flames
Czech hockey legend Jaromír Jágr is headed home after being placed on waivers by the Calgary Flames. The early return spells the end of his career in the National Hockey League, in what he said himself was 99.9 percent his final season. Now he will play for his hometown team, HC Kladno.
Just one season before Jágr had played all 82 games with the Florida Panthers and had earned a respectable 46 points – 16 goals and 30 assists – not bad for a forward who was playing in the NHL when the rest of his teammates were either in nappies or not even born.
Last autumn, Jágr was welcomed with great enthusiasm by Calgary Flames fans, including the Travelling Jags, dedicated to following the player from game to game wearing not only Jágr jerseys but wigs celebrating his famous 1990s mullet. Somewhat prophetically, the player joked in an interview where he showed up unexpectedly to surprise his fans that if things didn’t work out in Calgary at least he would stay and party.
Well they didn’t and the party’s over now, sooner than most had hoped. When the stats are added up, of course, nothing takes away from the fact that the player, who turns 46 in a fortnight, is a legend, one of the best to have ever played the game, second only to the Great One Wayne Gretzky on points, third on all-time goals, behind Gretzky and “Mr Hockey” Gordie Howe.
With the Flames, in the 22 games he was healthy, Jágr never really found his scoring touch though as he had in Florida. With Calgary he scored just one goal against fellow countryman Petr Mrázek in net for Detroit (he said at the time the first goal with any team was special – who knew it would be the only one).
“And he finds Gaudreau… two-on-one with Jágr… Gadreau and Jágr… Jágr…SCORES! His first as a Calgary Flame!”
In the same game against Detroit, Jágr assisted on Mark Jankowski’s first-ever NHL goal, which rebounded off the player’s leg into the net. Jankowski said that for Jágr to have assisted on the goal was a moment he would never forget.
One consolation is that while Jágr may be leaving the NHL, his fans know he isn’t hanging up his skates yet. He is returning to his hometown Kladno outside of Prague to play for HC Kladno aka. the Kladno Knights, a team where he is co-owner. Fans already welcoming him home online, will be hoping to see him in action for at least a few more seasons to come since he himself has joked before that he hoped to play until 50.
Jágr’s jokes – and his trademark grin – are so familiar it seems they will be missed in no time at all in the NHL.