I know it’s a long time since Jaromír Jágr signed his contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. But take another look at what he said to the Czech media after joining the team. The following are based on a Czech interview with Jaromir on isport and idnes.cz.
There hasn’t been a summer like this before. He signed a new deal with Philly, he makes Pens fans angry and they hate him now. He also became boss of his hometown team in Kladno. He only had a short time to make a preseason workout, so we hope that the comeback to the NHL won’t be a disaster.
Interviewer: You’re heading Philly next week. What is you physical condition?
Jágr: It’s tough to say. I’ll know after the preseason starts and I’ll play the first few games.
Interviewer: The timing of your NHL comeback has been weird. What is the main reason for your comeback?
Jágr: It wasn’t just one thing at all. I did well at the World Championship. I’ve tried there and know that I can still compete with the best players.
Interviewer: Will you be nervous in the first match in Philly colors?
Jágr: I hope that I won’t. I’m nearly 40, so (laughter). But it’ll be a weird feeling. (It seems that) everyone wants my failure, everyone wants to boo me and they wish me only the worst. It isn’t an easy situation, but all it depends on how can I handle it.
Interviewer: What do you expect from yourself?
Jágr: I’m not going to Philly with the idea that I can’t play in the NHL. I would be worthless then. I’m not saying that I will succeed, but I believe that I can, even though that I know it will be hard.
Interviewer: With the Flyers signing you’re going to make Pens fans really angry.
Jágr: I don’t know if there’s anything reasonable I can say. I didn’t really expect that they would take it in such a rational way. I didn’t really expect that the Pens fans would love to have me on their team after such a long time. Everytime I was playing in Pittsburgh (after being traded), they booed me. Now, the same fans want me to go back to Pittsburgh.
Interviewer: Is there any chance of a Russian comeback?
Jágr: This is a closed chapter. But never say never. I came back to the NHL, even though I thought that it’s not gonna happen.
Interviewer: Maybe you don’t want to go back to Russia because of coach Summanen?
Jágr: No, he’s so involved in the game sometimes that he can’t recognize that we’re human being and treat us with respect. He’s doing everything in order to winning but he treats players only like a part of the success. But on the other side he’s a great coach and the most of the stuff which we’re doing at Kladno this year is similar to his strategies.
Interviewer: You’ve mentioned Kladno, where you have your job. Is it tough to leave?
Jágr: It’ll be complicated because I will have to jump in the NHL and there are great expectations from me and I don’t know if I can succeed, if can handle it. It’s easier to manage the team at home than to play on the ice in America. You have to play on your own, do your best.
After a 23-year gap, he finally was able to play with the best Czechoslovakian scorer — Milan Novy — who celebrated his 60th birthday at Kladno. Jagr could not miss out on the celebration. After all he’s Kladno’s owner. But he’s also under contract with Philly and he’s going to Flyers preseason camp. And, by the way, that Kladno jersey does suit him well.
Interviewer: How is managing the Kladno club going?
Jágr: It’s all new for us in the front office but we’re trying to do things how we feel they should be done. I think we’re going the right way. The most important are managing the finances for running the team. We’ve done a good job so far.
Interviewer: There’s a good attendance at the exhibition game. It wasn’t the same in recent years. Will they come to Extraliga contests, too?
Jágr: (The attendance at the) exhibition game shows that the people of Kladno still love hockey. I can promise them that Kladno will be playing a completely different style, completely different hockey than before. I’m 100% convinced, but everyone could make a mistake. I believe that the team will play their best from the first until the last minute.
Interviewer: Are you in a good shape? The Flyers preseason camp is just around the corner…
Jágr: Only during the games will I find how hard it really will be, but I haven’t had anything to compare with… (laugh).
Interviewer: With what you will be satisfied after the season ends?
Jágr: If I can stay healthy and I can still play hockey. I want to go with the Flyers as far as I can and mainly I just don’t want to be a spare player. And as for Kladno, I hope that team will perform well and the attendance will also be good.
Interviewer: And you aren’t going back to Russia, are you?
Jágr: It’s a closed chapter for me. I said that I close the door and I don’t plan to come back.