After three seasons in the KHL, former Penguins, Caps and Rangers star Jaromir Jagr wants to return to the NHL and he’s identified the Canadiens as one of the teams he’d like to join.
“There’s a possibility, yes. My agent has talked to teams,” Jagr told Pierre Lebrun of ESPN.com from his native Czech Republic.
“First we’d have to see if it can happen,” he added. “But if it happened, it would be very exciting. It also would be a nice challenge. There would be some people who think I’m not good enough.”
Jagr’s agent is former Canadiens defenceman Petr Svoboda. “I’ve talked to Montreal, I’ve talked to Detroit, a few other teams called once they found out he was ready to go to [the] NHL,” Svoboda told Lebrun on Friday. “Hopefully we should have a better idea by tomorrow. There’s quite a few teams that have interest. Jaromir feels he’s NHL-ready again. I believe this might happen.”
Red Wings GM Ken Holland confirmed to Lebrun his team was one of Jagr’s target clubs. “We have been contacted and we have interest. We’re exploring our interest,” Holland said.
Svoboda said Jagr is only looking for a one-year deal. He has been playing for Avangard Omsk in Russia’s KHL and could end up returning there if he doesn’t make a deal with an NHL team. The Penguins were not among the teams that were in the mix, according to Svoboda.
“We’ll see what happens. I think the decision is going to be made soon,” Jagr said. “I have to decide soon if I stay in Russia because training camp starts two months earlier.”
Speaking with Mitch Melnick on Team 990 Friday afternoon, Pierre McGuire said Jagr would be most beneficial to a team that had a chance to win the Stanley Cup, less so to a mid-pack team or a rebuilding team.
And McGuire had this assessment of his former player, who he helped draft fifth overall in 1990 and coached when the Penguins won the 1992 Stanley Cup: “He’ll help your power play. He can still shoot the puck, he can still pass the puck. His legs aren’t the same as they used to be; I think Jaromir would be the first person to tell you that. The hands haven’t left him yet, which is a good thing for a player like that, but he can really help you on the power play. And if you were behind in a game you could probably use him every other shift for a while and he might be able to get you back into the game.”
The only downside McGuire envisioned would be the potential for injury, that he’s had groin and hipflexor problems recently, although he has a very powerful lower body and McGuire didn’t think that would be a major problem.
McGuire added one the biggest issue he thought might inhibit Jagr coming to Montreal would be the taxation issues, saying his pay would be taxed at over 50 percent.
Melnick and co-host Rod Francis brought up that Jagr has played on a line with both Tomas Plekanec (for the Czech national team) and Scott Gomez before, although as Francis pointed out, Jagr’s chemistry with Gomez when they were both on the Rangers was not especially good.
Just in case you’ve forgotten, here are some of Jagr’s better moments during his NHL prime.