Jagr might be perfect distraction as young Flames continue to grow

Jaromir Jagr spoke with Roger Millions about his decision to sign with the Calgary Flames and why their small size doesn’t mean they don’t have skill.

Asked what has set Jaromir Jagr apart for so many years, fellow Czech teammate Michael Frolik offered up something no others mentioned on Monday.

"His ass is massive," said Frolik of the six-foot-three, 230-pound legend with a smile.

"You guys will see."

Indeed, it appears hockey fans in Calgary will soon get a first-hand glimpse of Jagr’s Hall of Fame fanny when he joins the club he reportedly agreed to a one-year, $1 million deal (plus $1 million in potential bonuses) with Monday.

When that will be is anyone’s guess as the Flames have yet to make any sort of announcement.

But that didn’t stop the players on what would be his ninth NHL squad from grinning ear-to-ear.

After all, of all the stars in the NHL, the 45-year-old Hall of Fame shoe-in is the only true rock star.

"To put it in perspective – he came in the league and I was five years away from even being a thought," chuckled 19-year-old Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk, whose father, Keith, was drafted the same year as Jagr, 1990.

"It’s crazy to think about. He was winning MVPs and Cups before I was born. It’s an exciting day for us to have a player like that come in and have as much knowledge as he does. Personally I’m going to get as much as I can out of having him on the team. We’ve all heard the stories about what a legend he is and I’m excited to hear them first hand."

Of all the reasons it appears GM Brad Treliving has finally pulled the trigger on Jagr after a summer of heavy contemplation, Tkachuk and young teammates like Sam Bennett underlined what may be two of the biggest upsides: the excitement it has created in the group and the mentoring Jagr can provide.

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Flames coach Glen Gulutzan, who coached Jagr in Dallas in 2012-13 said the NHL’s second-leading scorer of all time called him Sunday to chat, but wouldn’t shed any light on the official status of the legend.

"When I had him in Dallas he was fantastic for our group," he said of the five-time NHL scoring champ.

"He’s a big body, fantastic around the circles, hockey IQ like you’ve never seen, hands… I really don’t have any concerns."

Could he be a distraction?

No, says Gulutzan, who insisted No. 68 fit in well in Dallas.

Fact is, he might just be the perfect distraction – for a time anyways – in a city where so much rides on the shoulders of youngsters like Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Tkachuk and the kids.

That could be a good thing.

So could his influence on youngsters who are already dying to pick his brain on all things on and off the ice.

"He could be a dad to a lot of guys in this room," joked Frolik, who said one of the greatest days of his life was when a young Jagr showed up at his practice in their hometown of Kladno when Frolik was six or seven.

"When he walks into the room you see big respect," Frolik added. "He’s a big guy and a big presence for sure. He’s one of the best players to ever play the game so it’s exciting. I think it’s something that can bring a lot to this team.

"He can be a little different – he does his own thing and it has been working for a long so he knows what he’s doing and what works for him. It might seem a little different than everyone else but it’s his business."

Fact is, at $1 million, as reported by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, there’s very little pressure for Jagr to contribute on the ice as he did last year with 16 goals and 46 points.

That would be a massive bonus.

He brings so many other things, including a return of the Calgary-based Travelling Jagrs who were almost as happy as the players when news broke of the deal.

"It’s pretty cool for a lot of us," said captain Mark Giordano, unable to wipe the grin off his face following a week in which all the talk in Calgary revolved around the team’s lackluster pre-season and the controversy surrounding the team’s arena impasse.

"He’s one of the greatest players of all time. He’ll bring in a little spark and bringing him in adds another dimension to your team."

Like the possibility he might be a compliment to Gaudreau and Monahan on the top line. He may also be the perfect third liner alongside Bennett, armed with the capability of being able to chip in on the power play as he has hundreds of times.

"That would be amazing," said Bennett of the possibility he just got a new linemate.

"I might be a little star-struck at first but if I do get the opportunity to play with him I’ll definitely try to take advantage of it. He’s got all the tools and is so strong down low – it’s something I can work with him on."

The biggest risk in it all is that he disrupts the leadership in the room, which is something Treliving likely discussed at length with all stakeholders.

Having a coach who dealt with Jagr before helps in terms of vouching for the legend’s character, no doubt.

Now it’s just a matter of getting that sizeable posterior of his in town so the real excitement can begin.

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