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Jagr: Classic will be better than Red Square Game

by Adam Kimelman
VOORHEES, N.J. -- This will be the first NHL Winter Classic for Philadelphia Flyers forward Jaromir Jagr, but it won't be the first time in his professional career he's skated in an outdoor game.

In his first season in the KHL, Jagr was named a team captain for one team at the 2009 KHL All-Star Game, which was played outside in Moscow's Red Square.

To say Jagr expects his time outside at the 2012 NHL Bridgestone Winter Classic to be more memorable than his previous time would be simplifying things.

"In Russia I wasn't really happy about that game," Jagr told "Not much fans, it was minus-40 (degrees). … Who would go watch hockey in minus-40? You'd have to be a crazy fan."


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While skating in Red Square was a unique opportunity, that's about the only good thing Jagr took from the experience.

"The place was special, but it was only two days to make the ice, so everything was quick," he said. "You cannot have an ice rink in Red Square for two months, it would be kind of impossible -- wouldn't work, that's why the ice wasn't very good. But it was Red Square, it was a special place."

When asked about how many fans came out to watch them play in Red Square that day, he said "probably five," but he knows there will be a few more than that when he and his Flyers teammates hit the Winter Classic ice against the New York Rangers on Jan. 2. The sold-out Citizens Bank Park is expected to be packed with at least 47,000 fans.

"I'm probably going to be shocked like I was when I was 18 and the most fans I played in front of was 3,000 people, and then I went to the U.S. and I see 20,000 people," said Jagr. "That's going to be the same step when I made from Czech league to America."

Once he gets used to the spectacle, Jagr knows he'll have a good time Jan. 2 -- and far better than the last time he played a game outside.

"I think everything is going to be a lot better, for sure," he said.

Contact Adam Kimelman at Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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