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Jagr not looking at NHL return this season

Free agent forward practicing, could play with Kladno, Czech Republic team he owns

by Michael Langr / NHL.com/cs Senior Correspondent

KLADNO, Czech Republic -- Jaromir Jagr isn't focusing on a potential NHL comeback.

"Quite frankly I didn't look into anything. The only thing I care about is to get well and get in shape as quickly as possible," Jagr said Thursday after practicing for the first time this season with Rytiri Kladno, a professional team he owns in the Czech Republic.

The 46-year-old forward, who played for the Calgary Flames last season, is an unrestricted NHL free agent. A serious knee injury and advancing age have forced Jagr to curtail his ambitions.

"My only goal for now is to feel better tomorrow than I felt today and to make it a day-by-day progress," Jagr said. "That way I can hopefully get to the point where I feel great one day."

Jagr entertained hopes of returning to the NHL for a 25th season as late as April.

He had seven points (one goal, six assists) in 22 games with the Calgary Flames last season and played his final game Dec. 31, 2017, against the Chicago Blackhawks. He was placed on injured reserve and then waived by the Flames on Jan. 28. After going unclaimed, he was assigned to Kladno the following day.

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

Jagr's 1,921 points are second in the NHL to Wayne Gretzky (2,857), his 766 goals are third behind Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801), and his 1,733 games played are third behind Howe (1,767) and Mark Messier (1,756). Jagr is the NHL leader with 135 game-winning goals, won the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992, the Hart Trophy in 1999, the Art Ross Trophy five times (1995, 1998-2001) and the Masterton Trophy for perseverance and dedication to hockey in 2016. He was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian.

"I shouldn't compare myself now with myself 10, or even two years ago," he said. "The time flies. But I will do all I can (to still play)."

After practicing with Kladno, Jagr jokingly said he was glad to survive it. He last played Feb. 17 in the Czech second-tier WSM Liga, against Havirov.

"I've been on the ice for the first time in six months," Jagr said. "This was my first full practice. I didn't feel very well. It was not about the knee limiting my skating; this was fine. But more about my thigh and muscles were still weak.

"My biggest limit is age. There are things I would like to handle but I can't do it anymore. At my age, these limitations come more and more often. But I believe that when my leg and the entire body gets stronger, it will all get better and better."

If Jagr plays this season, it likely will be for Kladno, his hometown team he became majority owner of in 2011. Kladno's 2018-19 season starts Sept. 8.

"I believe I can get my body to the state to be able to play games before the season starts. At least that's my plan," Jagr said. "I don't want to think too far ahead. The question if I'm able to play is still there. Let's see what happens in those two months."

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