Jaromír Jágr’s future on ice after Panthers’ rejection

Jaromír Jágr, photo: ČTK

Czech ice hockey legend Jaromír Jágr is, to put it bluntly, at the moment out of work. The 45-year-old is a free agent after Florida Panthers finally confirmed speculation that they were not counting on Jágr for the upcoming season. So what are the Czech’s options now?

Jaromír Jágr,  photo: ČTK
Jaromír Jágr was eventually told this week by the Florida Panthers that his contract would not be renewed and he will have to find another club.

The Czech sporting star had earlier wryly commented on his Twitter account that he was waiting in vain to be contacted by other clubs who might require him for another season. It was, he admitted, a stark contrast to the situation back in 1994, near the start of his long NHL career, when every general manager was calling up.

So, is the unthinkable now conceivable, that the iconic mullet will not be appearing on the NHL ice for the next season and that Jágr might hang up his skates? That a subject of speculation both in his homeland, the US, Canada, and Russia. Many commentators believe the super fit Jágr could still have another season in the NHL in him.

Home arena of the Florida Panthers,  photo: Elliot,  CC BY 2.0
They stress a respectable if not outstanding last season with the Panthers with 16 goals and 30 assists. While Jágr’s hefty salary, estimated at a base of just over 4 million US dollars ballooning to 5.5 million on performance, might have been a factor, the simple reason is that his face did not fit with the new coach.

The commentators point out that he teamed up profitably with the young forwards on the squad and that he still has the capacity to pull in the crowds, which many younger players lack. But Jágr’s lack of pace on the ice is seen to be an issue which cannot be realistically turned around.

A return to Jágr’s previous club, the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he twice lifted the Stanley Cup, does not look to be on the cards. But some Czech ice hockey reporters say that another his former club, the New York Rangers, could bring them the experience they need. Others say the veteran could be an ideal fit for the new Las Vegas franchise, the Golden Knights, with Jágr providing the leadership qualities that could help the team to gel. In the NHL stakes, a move to the Montreal Canadiens and a partnership with fellow Czech Tomáš Plekanec is also regarded as a possibility.

A move to Russia’s KHL, where Jágr already played for Omsk, is also seen as likely with several clubs said to be interested. Only one though, the lowly rated Amur Khabarovsk is reported to have confirmed its intent.

Finally, some Czech media suggest Jágr could really return to his home town of Kladno, where he owns the local ice hockey club relegated previously from the top Czech league and which the player admits he has not been able to devote enough time to in the past.