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Flames appreciative of short time with Jagr

Teammates will have fond memories despite brief stay in Calgary

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / Staff Writer

CALGARY -- There was a special farewell present waiting for Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk at the rink on Monday from legendary forward Jaromir Jagr.

"Before he left, he left me a stick signed back in the equipment room for me," Tkachuk said. "That's a keepsake."

For the family museum, right?

"No, that one's going to my museum," Tkachuk said, with a big smile.

The gift came after Jagr, 45, cleared waivers and was reassigned to Kladno in the Czech Republic.

Jagr's stay may have been injury-riddled and short with the Flames -- seven points (one goal, six assists) in 22 games -- but it had impactful moments. There were fond memories and smiles from the Flames when they spoke about their lasting impressions of Jagr, who is second all-time in the NHL in points (1,921) behind Wayne Gretzky (2,857).

There was an appreciation of his legacy and what Jagr has meant to the NHL, the Flames, and to the players, on a personal level.

Video: Breaking down Jaromir Jagr's career thus far

"I get to say I played alongside Jaromir Jagr," Flames forward Curtis Lazar said. "That's something pretty special. He was playing in the NHL when I was still in a crib.

"I mean, you could hear in the background, '(Mario) Lemieux sets up Jagr,' and I'm a baby in a crib. Just having him here, seeing the buzz around the city, getting to know him in the dressing room has been great. Me and Bart (Matt Bartkowski) would just sit and watch all the crazy stuff he does.

"It's something you can always look back on. He's a sure-fire, first-ballot Hall of Famer. You look at what he's accomplished and the numbers he's put up. It's fun to be able to say you a part of it. A small part, granted, but still."

For Tkachuk, it was meaningful

play with someone who had played against his father. Keith Tkachuk, who retired in 2010, played in 1,201 NHL games and had 1,065 points (538 goals, 527 assists) with the Winnipeg Jets, Phoenix Coyotes, St. Louis Blues and Atlanta Thrashers.

"He was good to me," Matthew said. "I think he liked me a lot. Him knowing a little bit about my dad kind of set me up. We had a pretty good relationship from the beginning.

"Looking back, it's so cool and he was so helpful to me. Earlier in the year, him keeping me out for practices and doing little drills with just me, just 1-on-1 stuff."

Video: DET@CGY: Jagr scores his first goal with the Flames

Tkachuk was flattered and surprised when Jagr asked him about his game and what made Tkachuk effective.

"He was asking me stuff about how I try to play, and how he's trying to adapt more and more as the NHL went along," Tkachuk said. "He was coming to me for some advice, not just me coming to him, which I thought was weird but really cool."

It was something of a bittersweet day for Flames forward Michael Frolik, who is from the same hometown (Kladno) as Jagr in the Czech Republic.

"It's sad obviously, but it is how it is," Frolik said. "I'm glad they worked it out. Those things happen in hockey. I just want to wish him the best of luck. I think he goes back home to his hometown.

"I think it's pretty cool for the people there and they're going to be excited. I think he's going to fill a lot of rinks back home."

Video: Fellow Czech Michael Frolik is sad to see Jagr go

Frolik said he still has a picture at home of when he first met Jagr.

"I was like 6 years old and he came to our practice back in our hometown, and he skated with us on the ice," Frolik said.

Of note, Frolik wore Jagr's No. 68, but briefly; it was when Frolik was in training camp with the Florida Panthers at the start of his NHL career in 2008.

"It was just by accident," Frolik said. "They just gave me the number in the camp. I was young and didn't know much. I was hoping they were going to change it."

"You don't want to be wearing like 99 or 68. There's a big respect for that." correspondent Aaron Vickers contributed to this story

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