The soon-to-be 46-year-old, despite dealing with a right knee injury, recorded three assists Saturday in his first game with the Kladno Knights in his native Czech Republic as Kladno defeated HC Benatky in WSM Liga action.
The Flames placed Jagr on unconditional waivers in January for the purpose of terminating his NHL contract and the winger was loaned to Kladno to play the remainder of the season in his country’s Tier 2 league.
Jagr’s return was so heavily anticipated in the Czech Republic that Saturday’s game was relocated nearly 70km to a stadium with a larger capacity. The game was originally slated to take place in Benatky’s home arena — a stadium with fewer than 2,000 seats — but was moved to a 7,500-seat arena in Liberec.
As Russian hockey reporter Igor Eronko noted, Jagr wasn’t the only former NHLer in his mid-40s to lace them up in this game.
Petr Nedved, who split his 982-game NHL career between the Canucks, Blues, Penguins, Rangers, Oilers, Coyotes and Flyers, came out of retirement for one game just to play against his old friend. Nedved thrived too, scoring a goal and adding an assist.
Jagr had just one goal and seven points in 22 games with the Flames this season but is second only to Wayne Gretzky on the NHL’s all-time points list with 766 goals, 1,155 assists, and 1,921 points in 1,733 games.
While he may have already played his final NHL game, Jagr isn’t quite done with the game.
“Love, as I can see it, is the strongest energy on earth,” Jagr said earlier this week while being introduced by Kladno. “I love hockey all the time, I’ve always loved it, and had no problem to sacrifice anything to it. That’s the most important thing, a factor that helps you play as long as possible.”