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Jagr won't play in Czech Republic this weekend, waits for NHL offer

No. 2 all-time scorer says teams he's talking to 'don't want me to play here'

by Michael Langr / NHL.com/cs Senior Correspondent

PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- Forward Jaromir Jagr has decided not to play in the Czech Republic this weekend and wait to find out if he has a future in the NHL.

Jagr, 45, an unrestricted free agent, is the second-leading scorer in NHL history (behind Wayne Gretzky). Jagr played the past three seasons for the Florida Panthers, who did not re-sign him. He had said he would play Saturday for Rytiri Kladno, a second-tier team he owns. After practice Friday, he said he is waiting to see how discussions with NHL teams turn out before he plays with the Czech club.

"I won't play for Kladno because there are still some negotiations in the NHL. Those teams don't want me to play here and I have to respect that," Jagr said, according to iDNES.cz. He did not identify the teams.

"It is unpleasant because people expected I would play. On the other hand, we haven't promised anything to anybody. It would make no sense to meddle in something when I'm not 100 percent sure that I stay here. I don't [want to] interfere with someone who has a roster spot [in Kladno]."

 

[RELATED: Jagr drawing interest from Blues]

 

On Thursday, St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said they have discussed the possibility of signing Jagr.

"He's a great player," Armstrong said. "Certainly, we've talked internally about him, as well as a number of players. But we're really going to have to dig deep into how our style of play is and what type of players can come in and complement our style."

The Blues announced Wednesday that forward Robby Fabbri will miss the season after reinjuring his left knee that required surgery for an ACL tear in February. Forward Zach Sanford is out 5-6 months after shoulder surgery, and they also are without forwards Patrick Berglund (shoulder) and Alexander Steen (hand). Berglund is not expected to play until December; Steen is expected to be out through the first week of the regular season, which begins at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 4 (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN). Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester (ankle) also is out.

The Blues reportedly are expected to sign unrestricted free agent forward Scottie Upshall, who was released from a professional tryout with the Vancouver Canucks on Thursday. That could complicate negotiations with Jagr, who appears to have other NHL options.

Video: CAR@FLA: Jagr buries Huberdeau's nice feed for PPG

Two weeks ago, Jagr told Russian daily Sport-Express that his representatives have been negotiating with three or four NHL teams.

"Many things change from day to day," Jagr said Friday, according to the Czech Press Agency. "I'm not taking part in these negotiations, I just listen to what [agent Petr Svoboda] tells me. You can't trust anything they say.

"You have to read between the lines. This is poker in hockey, each side is trying to bluff [to a] certain extent. I don't understand that, because we are adult guys and I'm not going to sign some gigantic seven-year contract. But that's the strategy of certain people. I'm just trying to be ready on the ice."

Jagr, who has been skating on his own and with Rytiri Kladno during the offseason, said missing NHL training camp shouldn't be a problem for him.

"The muscles have certain memory, and my muscles have it for a very long time because I'm 45 years old," he said. "It's just a matter of time to get back on track. [With the New Jersey Devils], I got injured in the first day of the camp and during that season I [scored] almost 70 points. Without a single practice in camp."

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

Jagr has 1,914 points (765 goals, 1,149 assists) in 23 NHL seasons with seven teams, and had 46 points (16 goals, 30 assists) in 82 games with the Panthers last season. He became the second-leading scorer in League history when he passed Mark Messier (1,887 points) on Dec. 22, 2016 to trail only Gretzky (2,857).

Jagr is third on the NHL all-time goals list, behind Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801), and fifth in assists behind Gretzky (1,963), Ron Francis (1,249), Messier (1,193) and Ray Bourque (1,169).

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