Saturday, 6 January 2018

Just A Cameo

It seems that the wily veteran's time in Canada might be coming to a close sooner than later. According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, "the two sides are 'working on an exit'" that would allow Jagr to explore other opportunities both in North America and abroad, but it's fairly clear to see that the 22-game appearance Jagr made in a Flames uniform will be his only time playing as a Flame. What the Flames can get for the 45 year-old veteran will remain to be seen, but it sounds like Jagr and his agent are already looking for new opportunities as the two sides split somewhat amicably.

"There's a certain amount of respect that he has earned and deserves to have and Calgary is trying to give it to him," Friedman reported Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada. "His agent, Petr Svoboda, has been given permission to talk to every other team in the league to see if there's a fit for him. At this time there isn't. … His time in Calgary is about done and they're just trying to figure out how they're going to go about it."

It's hard to imagine there is a playoff-bound team in the NHL that is looking for Jagr's services, but things could change for the positive for Jagr as his immediate future just got a little cloudier. There was speculation that he could return to the Czech Republic and suit up for HC Kladno, a team in which he is a part-owner, or even suit up for the Czech team in the Olympics, but reports have him wanting to stay in North America.

In 22 games this season, Jagr has one goal and six assists while playing a career-low 13:03 per night, and he hasn't played an NHL game since December 31. He seemed to fit nicely early on with the Flames as he slotted in on the third line with Sam Bennett and Kris Versteeg, and he was moved around to see if there was a fit alongside players such as Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, and Mikael Backlund. In the end, Jagr's style of play seemed in opposite to how the Flames were playing - a fast, up-tempo game that capitalized on team speed. That may explain why his ice-time continued to fall.

"The way I look at it," Jagr said before his first game this season against Los Angeles, "I don't care what you did 20 years ago — show me what you can do for us now."

That may be the rub in a game that seems to be faster each season as Jagr's age catches up to him. He still plays an excellent possession game where he can protect a puck down-low as good as any player in the league, but it's the 200-feet of skating that seems to have left him watching from the bench. As good as Jagr is with the puck, it's his play away from the puck that has the kids separating themselves from the sure-fire Hall-of-Famer.

If Jagr is going to another NHL team, I can't see any of the Western Conference playoff-bound teams opening their wallets to bring the veteran aboard. Perhaps there may be a spot with the Carolina Hurricanes who have a ton of younger players who may need a veteran voice in the room, but even that seems like a stretch when you consider how well the Hurricanes have been playing. In short, the 31 NHL teams may pass by the NHL's all-time second-leading scorer simply because the game has changed while Jagr has gotten older.

Time waits for no man. For Jagr, who is 35 games short of breaking the all-time games-played record held by Gordie Howe, that record may stand simply because time has finally caught up to him.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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