Future National Hockey League Hall of Famer Jaromir Jagr stepped back on the ice on Wednesday with one clear goal in mind: to return to action for the 2018-19 season. The owner of Rytiri Kladno of the Czech Republic’s WSM Liga hit the ice with his own players and is looking to ready to play games at some point in September.
With Kladno, of course, as a return to the NHL appears to be off the table. Jagr hadn't practice in a while and was hoping to get back to shape quickly to be ready for next season, while making sure past injuries don't come back to haunt him.
“It’s not easy. I was glad I survived the first training, but I’ll do the best to make it better every day,” Jagr told reporters after practice via iSport.
After remaining unsigned through most of the off-season last summer, Jagr had signed with the Calgary Flames in October, a few days before the start of the regular calendar. The Flames were his ninth team in a 24-season NHL career.
But after collecting one goal and six assists in 22 games, Jagr was waived by Calgary on Jan. 28, and shortly thereafter, he returned to Kladno and played a few games with the Knights before aggravating the knee injury.
“I would be more happy if I was in the NHL now, but as a second option, this is the place I want to be,” he told the New York Times in April. “I got an opportunity and for whatever reason I didn’t play my best and I got injured.”
Back then, Jagr said he had no plans to retire, and it seems to be truly the case now with the veteran forward getting back on the ice. Kladno has a 10-game preseason schedule which kicks off on July 31 before the regular season opens up on Sept. 8. Jagr said his goal is to be ready for the season opener.
“I believe that before the season begins I can prepare enough to be able to play the whole game. That’s at least in my plan,” he said.
In previous interviews, Jagr has yet to rule out a return to the NHL, where he ranks second on the career points list with 1,921 points. Catching the leader, Wayne Gretzky, is not a motivation; Gretzky has an unreachable 2,857. But Jagr is third in games played (1,733) and goals (766).
However, for now, we can see that his focus is on getting better and returning to Kladno for the season opener.
“I believe that when the leg and the whole body strengthens with more frequent workouts and those outside the ice, it will only improve.”