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Jagr won't rush back for Flames to face Penguins

Forward, out with lower-body injury, unsure if he will play against former team Thursday

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

CALGARY -- Forward Jaromir Jagr is close to returning from a lower-body injury that has kept him out for four games but said he won't rush to play when the Calgary Flames host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; SNW, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV).

"I just want to come back and be ready and help the team," Jagr said. "I don't want to just go in and be there. It's not me … maybe [in the] early years, but I just want to be healthy."

The 45-year-old was injured in the first period of a 4-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild on Oct. 21. He was placed on injured reserve Oct. 23 and was expected to miss about a week.

Jagr has two assists in five games since signing a one-year, $1 million contract with the Flames on Oct. 4, and had been playing on the top line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.

Video: MIN@CGY: Jagr heads down the tunnel with an injury

He said the injury could've been a result of rushing to get into the lineup after not having an NHL training camp.

"Don't forget I didn't play for five months," Jagr said. "The other thing is, I want to get into shape as quick as possible. I worked very hard off the ice and maybe I just overworked myself. It's tough to say. Bad thing happened. I have to be a little more patient this way and see what happens.

"I felt pretty good before I got injured. I just stepped back again. It's tough, but nothing I can do about it right now. I just have to keep working and hope that it's going to get better and better."

Flames coach Glen Gulutzan was optimistic about Jagr's timetable following practice Tuesday.

"I'll see how he is today and that'll be a good indication because today was a tough skate," Gulutzan said. "That's a good sign. Until we see with the trainers and everything [we won't know] … but to get through practice, I think that's a good indicator."

Jagr played the first 11 of his 24 NHL seasons for the Penguins, who selected him with the No. 5 pick in the 1990 NHL Draft. He had 1,079 points (439 goals, 640 assists) in 806 games and won the Stanley Cup in 1991 and 1992 with Pittsburgh.

Jagr is third with 765 NHL goals, behind Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801), and is second in points with 1,916, behind Gretzky (2,857). Jagr is fourth in NHL games played with 1,716, 51 behind Howe's record of 1,767.

"It is frustrating, but it's part of the life," said Jagr, who played 82 games for the Florida Panthers last season. "I was kind of lucky over my hockey career that there haven't been many big injuries. That's the way it is. Nothing I can do anything about."

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