Jaromir Jagr said he feels obligated to continue playing for the team he owns in the Czech Republic, even though the former NHL forward admits his skills are declining with his 50th birthday approaching.
“Do you know why I’m still playing?” Jagr told The Hockey News in comments published Wednesday. “I have a responsibility to the club, 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.”
Jagr took over as majority owner of Kladno from his father, also named Jaromir, in 2011.
He completed his 33rd professional season and helped it earn promotion from the second-tier Chance Liga to the Czech Extraliga, the top Czech league. Jagr scored 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in 19 regular-season games and 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in 16 playoff games.
He will turn 50 on Feb. 15, 2022.
“It’s not easy anymore, believe me,” Jagr said. “Because mostly during my career, I felt that if I wanted to score a goal, I would score. But suddenly, this doesn’t work. …
“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.”
Jagr last played in the NHL for the Calgary Flames in the 2017-18 season. He made his professional debut for Kladno in 1988-89 and played 24 NHL seasons, starting with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1990-91. He also played in the Kontinental Hockey League.
Selected by Pittsburgh with the No. 5 pick in the 1990 NHL Draft, Jagr is first in NHL history in game-winning goals (135), second in points (1,921), third in goals (766), fourth in games played (1,733), fifth in assists (1,155), and fifth in points in the Stanley Cup Playoffs (201).
Jagr won the Stanley Cup twice with the Penguins (1991, 1992) and the Hart Trophy voted as NHL MVP in 1998-99. He led the NHL in scoring five times (1994-95, 1997-2001) and was named an NHL First Team All-Star seven times (1994-96, 1997-2001, 2005-06).
“We make jokes, that he’s still playing,” teammate and former NHL forward Tomas Plekanec said. “But we don’t have to talk about that. No one can expect him to be a top player, but he’s still good on the power play. He can find his role and place. I wouldn’t be surprised if he played another two or three years.”