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Jagr says he played his final game for Czech Republic

by Michael Langr / NHL.com

PRAGUE -- Jaromir Jagr (Florida Panthers) said Sunday that he has played his last game for the Czech Republic national team. Jagr and the Czechs lost 3-0 to the United States in the bronze-medal game of the 2015 IIHF World Championship on Sunday at O2 Arena.

"Obviously, I'd rather finish with a better game and with a win, but that's how it is," Jagr said after the Czech Republic finished fourth for the second consecutive year. "I'm glad I played in this tournament and the fans have been great to me. I tried to give them everything I had, each game. Sometimes it went well, sometimes not. But I always gave it 100 percent."

Jagr's six goals led the Czech Republic and were tied for fourth among tournament leaders. At 43 years and 76 days old, Jagr became the oldest player to score a goal at the World Championship on May 1 against Sweden. He also scored twice, including the game-winner, in a 5-3 win against Finland that advanced the Czech Republic into the semifinals. He was named MVP of the tournament after Canada won the gold medal with a 6-1 win against Russia.

Jagr announced the end of his international career last year following the World Championship in Minsk, Belarus, where the Czechs advanced to the medal round but lost the semifinals and the bronze-medal game without scoring a goal. But he changed his mind and competed this year because of the opportunity to play in his home country.

"If it was in Prague, I would not play," Jagr said. "I wanted it for the fans, coaxed my dad, and (fellow countryman and former New York Rangers teammate Martin Rucinsky) cracked me. But now ... I don't have it anymore. It's time to move on."

This time Jagr said his international career, during which he won a gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Olympics and two World Championships (2005, 2010) is definitely over.

"Life goes on. I'm not finishing my career, I'll play for Florida for at least one more season. And after an [NHL retirement] I'm still planning to come back and play in the Czech League. But it's time to move on."

Jagr feels there's time for younger Czech players carry the load on the international scene.

"I wish younger players start to show up (at Worlds)," he said. "Maybe there's a new generation of players such as (Ondrej) Palat, (David) Pastrnak and this young generation, I also wish some young Czech defensemen would jump into the NHL. You could see even here that the guys who were playing in the NHL are on the top, it's just a different League. You have 82 games of superb quality. That's what helps every player develop and move forward. NHL is totally above all other Leagues, no doubt about that. And I believe our (Czech) youngsters start to come play (at the Worlds) no matter if they have contracts for the next season or not."

Jagr scored 17 goals and 43 points in 77 games for the New Jersey Devils and Panthers this season. His 722 goals lead all active NHL players.

"Right now I'm tired, but you get some rest and start to look ahead," he said. "For me, next season starts tomorrow and I have to get ready to be able to deal with my responsibilities in Florida and play my best hockey.

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