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Injury ends Jagr's Classic experience in second period

by Davis Harper /

With all the pressure and praise heaped on budding star Claude Giroux heading into the Winter Classic, many predicted aging wonder Jaromir Jagr, Giroux's linemate, could be a difference-maker Monday at Citizens Bank Park.

And he might well have been, though not in the way anyone could have predicted.

Late in the first period, Jagr aggravated a groin strain he sustained on Dec. 29 in the Flyers' last game before the Winter Classic, against the Penguins. He skated only two more shifts, but was a virtual nonfactor, eventually missing the final 35 minutes.

"Last game I sprained my leg, it was a little bit (of) swelling," said Jagr, who ultimately went 10 shifts totaling 7:09. "Then, late in the first period it was getting worse and worse. I tried (to come) back, but I just couldn't skate 100 percent. I just thought, I cannot help my team."

Jaromir Jagr
Right Wing - PHI
GOALS: 12 | ASST: 19 | PTS: 31
SOG: 85 | +/-: 12
With 3:02 to go in the first, Jagr provided a rare moment of excitement in a subdued opening period when he split two Rangers defenders. After the game, Jagr pinpointed the move as the beginning of the end of his night.

"That's what I think," Jagr said. "That's where it started hurting the most."

Jagr remained on the bench after the injury, saying: "I was hoping maybe if we got a power play I could volunteer. I just wanted to be with my teammates."

Since he kept his seat on the bench, he was on hand to see a goal by Mike Rupp that turned Philadelphia's two-goal lead into a 2-1 game. In his celebration, Rupp gave the crowd a spirited salute, which Jagr has made famous. The gesture angered some fans, but Jagr was more circumspect in his judgment.

"It's fine with me -- it's not my signature. I just do it to celebrate a goal," Jagr said. "Maybe he does it too, maybe he celebrates like that -- I don't know, he doesn't score many goals.

"We're still going to be play them three more times. And I think I'm going to score and I'm going to salute him back."

Though Jagr went on record before the game about his reluctance to play outdoors, citing a bad experience in the Kontinental Hockey League, he said the setting had nothing to do with his injury or removal from the game.

"I know I said I wasn't a fan of that, but I was wrong," Jagr said. "It was a great game, and it's just too bad we couldn't do it for our fans. That's the most disappointing thing."
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