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FHN Today: Jaromir Jagr has ‘no choice’ but to keep playing

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Jaromir Jagr
The Florida Panthers top line — from top left — of Jaromir Jagr, Sasha Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau pose inside a locker room at the IceDen before the start of the 2015-16 NHL season. // Photo by @GeorgeRichards

While playing for the Florida Panthers in 2016, Jaromir Jagr said he wanted to play until he was 50 and he is nearing that accomplishment.

It does not sound like he is enjoying it all that much, however.

Jagr told the Hockey News that he will continue playing for the Kladno Knights of the Czech Extraliga with the Kladno Knights — the team he owns — mainly because if he didn’t, the team may not be around anymore.

“Do you know why I’m still playing? I have a responsibility to the club,’’ Jagr told the Hockey News. “Otherwise I wouldn’t fly here and I wouldn’t be making a fool of myself. But if I quit, the partners and sponsors would leave and the club may be done.

“I have no choice. People don’t understand it, but I don’t care. Only God will judge me. I expect much more from myself, and I also believe that I have it in me.”

As he showed with the Panthers in what was the sunset of his NHL career (he briefly played in Calgary after Florida didn’t sign him in 2017), Jagr can still bring it when needed.

Last season, after the Knights had been relegated to the Czech League’s second division, Jagr continued to battle injury but pretty much willed the Knights back into the top level as they won the championship and were promoted.

In 19 regular season games last year, Jagr scored two goals with 12 points. He had two more goals and 10 points in 16 playoff games.

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Jagr will turn 50 in February. It sounds like he will indeed celebrate the milestone birthday on the ice.

“It’s not easy anymore, believe me,” Jagr told the Hockey News. “Because mostly during my career, I felt that if I wanted to score a goal, I would score. But suddenly, this doesn’t work. I have to practise, pay more attention to it and not gain 120 kilograms again.

“At the same time, people still expect it from me, and that’s probably the worst feeling, when people think I can, but I know I can’t. Plus, I can’t even tell them. I just know that I will do my best to help the club. I don’t know if anyone can understand my role. I don’t even want to be in such a position, but I have no choice. As long as my father breathes, I take the club as my responsibility. He held it for 20 years. As a son, I would be embarrassed if I left.”

Jaromir Jagr

Florida Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr meets the media at the 2016 NHL All-Star Game in Nashville where he was captain of the Atlantic Division team. // Photo by @GeorgeRichards

FLORIDA PANTHERS LINKS

Sam Reinhart got a new three-year deal from the Panthers on Wednesday but says he and the team are “confident” this will be a long-term relationship.

GM Bill Zito tells FHN that the Reinhart deal gives the Panthers some cap flexibility as the team navigates trying to keep everything together. (FHN)

— Buffalo’s take on Reinhart signing with the Panthers. (Buffalo News)

— Geordie Kinnear will have Dan Bylsma and Leo Luongo on his 2021-22 Charlotte Checkers coaching staff. (Checkers)

— That staff will make their Carolina debut in the home opener at Bojangles Coliseum Oct. 22 against the visiting Hersey Bears. (Checkers)

— Tickets for the 2021-22 season go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. with the Panthers planning to open up to full capacity at BB&T Center this season. (FHN)

— D’Eriq King joins the Territory Talk crew to talk about joining the team. (Panthers)

AROUND THE NHL

Mark Pysyk is back in Buffalo and excited to get back to Buffalo after leaving there in 2016 when the Panthers traded Dmitry Kulikov for him.

The Prius’ is also going back to being a full-time defenseman. (NHL)

— The Chicago Blackhawks’ sexual assault story has more Florida Panthers links than just Joel Quenneville: Paul Vincent, who has worked as a skills coach with the Panthers over the years, speaks to investigators and former Florida defenseman Nick Boynton is part of it as well. (TSN)

— The Ryan Ellis deal with Nashville is looking pretty good for the Flyers. (PHN)

— What to do — and not to do — if you get the chance to skate with NHLers during the summer. (SN)

— Ryan S. Clark takes us deep into what went down in the Seattle expansion draft. (The Athletic)

— If you want to go to a Winnipeg Jets game, you better have been vaccinated. (SN)

— The Capitals have signed Jordan Subban. (WHN)

— Lucas Raymond is one of the betting favorites to win the Calder this season. (DHN)

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