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Jaromir Jagr of Panthers believes he can 'get better'

Veteran forward says he loves game, won't speculate on future

by Alain Poupart / Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Jaromir Jagr, who can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, declined to speculate about his future Monday but said he still enjoys playing hockey and loves being with the Florida Panthers.

"I first have to finish the season," Jagr said before the Panthers lost 4-1 to the Montreal Canadiens at BB&T Center. "But the way I look at it, I'm already playing in the future right now.

"I still love the game. I still want to get better every day I step on the ice. Nothing has changed the last 20 years I've played hockey. The drive is still there. I still believe I can get better. The main thing is I love the game, so I have to wait what's going to happen."

Jagr, 45, is playing on a one-year contract, the sixth straight season he's done that. He signed his latest one-year contract with the Panthers on May 5.

Panthers coach/general manager Tom Rowe, who acquired Jagr in a trade from the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 26, 2015, said management has not had any discussions about Jagr's future.

Asked about Jagr's performance this season, Rowe said: "It's pretty good. He's still producing."

Video: FLA@BOS: Jagr nets wrister through traffic for PPG

Jagr, whose 1,911 points (765 goals, 1,146 assists) are second in NHL history, has 43 points (16 goals, 27 assists) this season and is one of six Panthers to play in their first 79 games.

"I love it here, any minute I was here," Jagr said. "The organization was so good to me. They gave me a chance. They traded for me. They gave me a great opportunity. I love it. I play with very good and talented players the last few years here. I love it. I love it here and nothing has changed."

After winning the Atlantic Division last season, the Panthers were defeated by the New York Islanders in the Eastern Conference First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Florida (33-35-11) will not make the playoffs this season.

"It doesn't matter if we lost or we didn't make the playoffs," Jagr said. "Nothing has changed. I'm the one to be blamed too."

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