He has achieved everything in hockey.
He won an Olympic Gold medal, World Cup Championship and the Stanley Cup — twice.
Jaromír Jágr amazed the whole world with his fantastic performance on every club for which he played. And this is truth even as he approaches his 40th birthday. He fits perfectly to Philadelphia and he’s created very dangerous duo with linemate Claude Giroux. On Thanksgiving Day, which was October 24 this year, he didn’t forget to thank the people who helped him the most to start his brilliant career.
Philly.com scheduled an interview with Jaromír and in it, he gave thanks mainly to his family and his parents.
“You may have two kind of parents. The first kind live with you. But the second kind of parents sacrifice their lives for their children. They want to have a successful child with a better life than they had. And those are the type of parents I had.”
He grew up in an era in Eastern Europe marked by Communist rule when the situation wasn’t ideal.
“My parents sacrificed their lives. And this is what I appreciate the most. If I had another set of parents, I wouldn’t have had such a career. That’s for sure. They did everything for me, I never missed anything. They worked hard that they had money for living and for food. My father hadn’t missed any of my practices until I was 15 years old.”
At age 39, he’s at an age where he thinks about fatherhood. “I want to be a dad one day. I would like to provide for my child like my parents did for me. But I think that I’m not prepared for that. In that case I would have to quit hockey which I still love,” he admitted.
For now, he lives with his girlfriend Inna Puhajková but they aren’t planning wedding at this time. “It’s only a paper,” Jágr says. At present, he’s focused only on hockey. Even though he’s injured (pulled groin), he might be satisfied with his NHL comeback. He quickly settled in Philly, and he’s proven to be one of the best players on the Flyers’ roster.
He benefits from playing with a young center in the 23-year-old Giroux. Both players have formed on-ice chemistry together and they are collecting good numbers in this season. “I didn’t even think that I could have played with such a player like Claude is,” Jagr said.
This, despite worries around the league that Jágr couldn’t live up the expectations.
But Jágr’s numbers speaks for themselves. He has played in 19 games and collected 17 points before the groin injury slowed him. “When he came up, we didn’t know what to expect. But he’s a big part of our team both on and off the ice.“ added Giroux. “He spent a lot of time in the gym because he wants to be stronger. He’s a role model for young players even for me.”
There are critics and pundits who might still be surprised with Jágr’s performance — but his former teammates Ron Francis and Joe Mullen are not.
“He has a big influence on talented youngsters on the Flyers’ roster. When he was younger, we were always prepared to help him. We discussed everything and he listened to us. Now, Jaromír is in our position and he works in a similar fashion with young players in Philaldephia. I think it’s great,” said Mullen, who played in Pittsburgh from 1991-95 and 1997.
“We experienced many fantastic years together, we are good friends. It’s great that we can see him in the NHL again.“ added Francis, a recent addition to the Hall of Fame.
But it’s a question that how long Jaromír wants to keep playing. He signed a one-year deal with Philly and then he’s hinted that he’ll make his return to Kladno. But it’s not impossible that he might extend his NHL career.
“It’s very early to talk about my future. The whole season in ahead of us and I’m glad that I can be a part of a team which can I help a lot. It’s not about me, It’s about the team. I want to reach playoff spot with my team. It’s my main goal.”
And after that? “I can play in Kladno until I’m 50. No one can fire me,” he added, laughing.