Originally hailing from Kladno, part of the Prague metropolitan area, 45-year-old hockey star Jaromír Jágr is one of the NHL’s greatest legends.
He’s third all-time in goals with 765, behind only Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howe, and second all time in points (1,921) behind Gretzky. And that’s despite a three-year break in the middle of his career a decade ago, when he left the NHL to play for Avangard Omsk in the Russian KHL.
But those numbers might turn out to be Jágr’s final tallies in the National Hockey League.
Following an injury-plagued 2017-18 season that has limited Jágr to 22 appearances and a single goal, it was announced Monday that the Calgary Flames had placed the Czech right-winger on waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract.
“I am very disappointed that things did not turn out as we had hoped,” Jágr told the Associated Press.
But he thanked Calgary for “for giving me the immense opportunity to be a part of their team and continue my NHL career.”
But he isn’t done yet.
Before Jágr signed a one-year, $1 million contract to play for Calgary, it was widely speculated that he might return to the Czech Republic to continue his career.
He’s the co-owner and current president of HC Kladno, the hometown team he began his career with as a teenager in Czechoslovakia in the mid-1980s.
Speaking to reporters following the announcement of the termination of his contract, Jágr immediately confirmed any speculation about where he’s headed next.
“I now look forward to continuing the season in Kladno.”
While it’s sad to see Jágr’s career in the NHL come to what might be it’s end, local press has lit up with reports about the star returning to play in the Czech Republic. Besides playing for the Czech national team, Jágr’s last regular appearance in the Czech hockey leagues was nearly 30 years ago.
At that time, the Kladno Knights were a member of the Czech Extraliga, the highest-level Czech ice hockey league, where they had a strong tradition that included six national championships.
The last of those was in 1980, however, and the team was relegated to the second-level 1. Czech Liga in 2014.
Jágr wants to see his team return to the Extraliga, reports Sport.cz, and is already back in Prague to move them forward.
With the team preparing his eligibility to play for Kladno underway, Jágr is expected to play with the Knights at HC Benátky nad Jizerou on Saturday. Should that be the case, the match will move to a higher-capacity Home Credit Arena in Liberec to accommodate a large crowd welcoming the star back to the Czech Republic.
Jágr won’t be the only former NHL star in Liberec on Saturday. Petr Nedvěd, Jágr’s teammate on the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers and a former Liberec White Tiger, is expected to be honored in a ceremony before the game.
If you want to see Jágr play in Prague on future dates this year, tickets to Kladno’s 5,200-capacity Zimní Stadion run a mere 90-130 crowns.
Kladno is a half-hour bus ride from Prague’s Nádraží Veleslavín station (other Prague stations also service the area), and the hockey arena is a 5-10-minute walk from the Kladno bus stop at Náměstí Svobody (it’s also right across from the Kladno Aquapark).