Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Jaromir Jagr Battles Rust, Fatigue in First Skate as a Calgary Flame

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Jaromir Jagr Battles Rust, Fatigue in First Skate as a Calgary Flame

Article excerpt

Jagr battles fatigue in first Flames skate

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CALGARY - Jet lag, altitude, a summer in limbo and age all had Jaromir Jagr bending over to catch his breath a lot in his first skate as a Calgary Flame.

The 45-year-old right-winger, who had arrived in Calgary from his native Czech Republic the previous day, was frank in his assessment of himself Thursday.

"Not very good," Jagr said. "I'm glad I survived this practice. Hopefully tomorrow I feel better than today."

Calgary's home-opener is Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets before the Flames head out on a two-game road trip to California.

Jagr's arrival in a Canadian NHL market in his 24th, and what he says is likely last, NHL season is generating a buzz in Calgary.

If he plays 57 games this season, he'll pass Gordie Howe for the most played in a career (1,767).

Jagr's much-anticipated debut in the flaming 'C' may have to wait, however.

"If I'm not going to be ready, I think it's not very smart to put me out there," he said.

He has Friday's practice and Saturday's pre-game skate to try and get his game legs under him. Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan trusts Jagr's judgement of his game fitness.

"I think he's got enough games in the league to figure out when he's going to be completely ready," Gulutzan said. "We talked about that and I said 'you've got to let me know how you're feeling.'"

Second only to Wayne Gretzky in all-time NHL scoring with 1,914 points, Jagr said not knowing if he would play in the NHL again made for a awkward off-season.

He and the Flames didn't agree on a one-year, US$1-million contract until Sunday.

"I didn't know if I was going to play in the NHL again. I didn't practise with any team. I was practising and I didn't see any future," Jagr explained. "It's kind of tough, especially at my age, it's not easy for anybody to practise on their own, but not to see much future. …

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