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'WHAT A LEGEND'

Michael Frolik reflects on what Jaromir Jagr has meant to him and the Czech Republic

by AARON VICKERS @AAVickers / CalgaryFlames.com

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia - The keepsake, likely, will end up tucked in a drawer upon Michael Frolik's return from the 2019 IIHF World Championship.

The memory it represents, however, will not.

Because the handshake from the man who gave it to him will linger much, much longer.

Frolik, who twice bulged the twine and added a solo helper in assisting the Czech Republic to a 7-2 win over the overwhelmed Norway on Saturday, slapped hands, exchanged a brief conversation and paused for a photo op with his former teammate.

Current idol.

Living legend.

Jaromir Jagr.

"I mean, it's obviously something special, right?" said Frolik shortly after the exchange following his 'player of the game' nod.

"What a legend he is. It's nice too that he's come here. It's special that he can give me the award.

"It's definitely something special." 

Frolik and Jagr sat just four stalls apart at Scotiabank Saddledome for a four-month stretch during Jagr's latest, and likely last, spin on the National Hockey League circuit.

Then 45, he appeared in 22 games with Calgary as he battled an injury, but amassed seven points (one goal, six assists) to extend his career NHL totals to 766 goals -- third all-time, and to 1,921 points - trailing only Wayne Gretzky (2,857).

His 1,733 games played are third all-time behind Mark Messier (1,756) and Gordie Howe (1,767).

The impression he's left on the game is lasting.

So too, Frolik suggested, is the impression he's left on the Flames.

"You see things that he does off the ice … it's so strange but it works for him," Frolik said. "It's cool to see what works for him. You try to learn from it. He's special on those things. He's walking with the vest and the ankle weights around. It works for him. Those late practices, too. The extra work after practice, that's what you can learn from him and that's what I'm trying to do."

Frolik's connection to Jagr goes well, well beyond the Flames, though.

He was dubbed 'Baby Jagr' while starring in his hometown of Kladno as a teenager.

 

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Both played professional hockey in the Czech Republic, for the same organization no less, at just 16.

"When I was growing up he was the guy to look up to," recounted Frolik, who also won bronze with Jagr at the 2011 IIHF World Championship. "I remember the first time I was 16, in the lockout, he played for Kladno for my hometown team. I was there … I saw him for the first time just walking around the room, I was like, 'Wow, he's so big and so good.'

"It was fun to be a part of it."

So, too, was the exchange between he and Jagr on Saturday.

A lasting memory, no doubt, from the 2019 tournament.

"Before, I didn't really know him that much but when he got to Calgary, we spent a little bit more time together and you get to know how he is and what he's about," said Frolik, who now has three goals and four points through two games at the tournament.

"What a legend.

"It's been nice to see him here. That's what he told me too, that it was nice to see me.

"He wished me good luck and told the team, 'Keep it going.'"

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