Jagr plans to give the Flyers 'my best shot'

Posted: September 18, 2011

Jaromir Jagr, one of the many new Flyers, doesn't pretend he will resemble the 50-goal scorer of yesteryear, but the gracefully aging winger does feel he can make a contribution.

Even at 39. Even though he has been away from the NHL for three years, playing in larger Russian rinks.

"There's probably a lot of people wondering if I can still play," Jagr, a physical-fitness addict who looks much younger than his age, said after the Flyers opened training camp in Voorhees before a standing-room-only crowd Saturday. "That's fine with me. I'm not 21 and trying to prove something with my words. We have to wait and see. I can promise you one thing: I'm going to give my best shot to play on a high level."

Jagr has 646 goals and 1,599 points in 17 NHL seasons, including 11 with Pittsburgh. He signed a one-year, free-agent deal for $3.3 million with the Flyers.

"I didn't come here for the money just to impress myself," Jagr said. "I'm not saying I am going to be dominating. I'm not saying I'm going to be good. I can promise you I will do all the right things to play."

In a long media session, Jagr was introspective and sensitive - he was teary-eyed as he talked about the friends he lost in the Russian plane crash last week. He was also funny, saying he would not go back to growing his hair long.

"Scott Hartnell would be jealous," he said with a smile.

General manager Paul Holmgren said he thought Jagr could produce 45 to 65 points.

At Saturday's practice, Jagr skated on a line with center Claude Giroux (23 years old) and left winger James van Riemsdyk (22). The latter two players' combined age (45) is just six years older than Jagr's.

"When I was a kid I looked up to him as obviously one of the best young players to ever play, so anytime you have a guy like that on your line it's pretty exciting," Giroux said.

Winger Jakub Voracek, another new Flyer, also idolized Jagr. He grew up in the same town as Jagr - Kladno, in the Czech Republic.

The Jagr-worship aside, the 6-foot-2, 240-pound right winger should bolster a power play that was 19th out of 30 teams with a 16.6 percent success rate last season. He will bring his wily experience to whichever line he ends up on.

In turn, "the enthusiasm that goes through young guys for the game will rub off on Jaromir a little bit, too," Holmgren said. "When we talked in the summer about coming here, that was one of the things we tried to push - that we had a lot of young forwards and maybe there'll be a little give and take. . . . Hopefully, one hand washes the other."

"He's come back with a great attitude," coach Peter Laviolette said. "He wants to be part of this."

Jagr said he didn't mean to offend anyone in Pittsburgh when he bypassed the Penguins and signed with their bitter intrastate rivals.

In Pittsburgh, Jagr has become Public Enemy No. 1. New Flyer Max Talbot, another former Penguin, kidded with Jagr about it the other day.

"I told him I was kind of glad he didn't sign in Pittsburgh because he got the heat more than me," Talbot said with a grin.

Camp notes. Saturday's other main lines were: Danny Briere centering Hartnell and Voracek; Michael Nylander, who had success playing alongside Jagr with the Rangers and Washington, centering Talbot and Wayne Simmonds; and Blair Betts centering Jody Shelley and Andreas Nodl.

Don't read much into the lines, Laviolette said, because they will be altered repeatedly during camp. He added it's not a lock that Briere and Hartnell will remain together. A year ago, Briere, Hartnell, and Ville Leino formed the Flyers' top unit.

Breakaways. Sixty-six players are fighting for 23 jobs. . . . Holmgren was impressed with defenseman Matt Walker, who is much slimmer (and healthier) than last year. Walker is among the players battling for the sixth defensive spot. "I thought he looked outstanding today," Holmgren said. "He spent his own money and went to Vancouver and hired a trainer and worked one on one. He looks lean."

Contact staff writer Sam Carchidi at scarchidi@phillynews.com or @BroadStBull on Twitter.


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