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Off the ice with Jaromir Jagr

by John Dellapina
VANCOUVER -- Jaromir Jagr has tried to lead his Czech Republic team to Olympic glory in these Vancouver Games. Sunday afternoon, though, his admitted attempt to do too much backfired when he was checked to the ice by Alex Ovechkin, coughing up the puck for the turnover the led to a pivotal Russian goal in a 4-2 Czech defeat. caught up with Jagr moments after he left the Canada Hockey Place ice. -- It seemed as if your team started tentatively but came on very strong late.

Jagr -- It was up and down. I think we gave them too much respect. I don’t think we played our game. But you have to be very careful. Especially with the third guy high. You have to be very careful because, when they go with their speed and skill, it’s tough for our defense.

We didn’t spend much time in their zone. That why I think that If we’re going to play them one more time – if – we have to change the way we play. -- Did you see Ovechkin coming on that big hit?

-- Of course I saw him. I wanted to make a play. It was just a bad turnover – a bad mistake. The hit doesn’t hurt. The mistake hurts because they scored a goal on that play. It’s a bad feeling. But I have to come back. -- You were one of Ovechkin’s great and early admirers, anointing him the NHL’s best player early in his career. Do you still admire him after that hit?

Jagr -- No question about it. That’s why he’s great. It was my mistake. I tried to do too much. I didn’t see anybody to pass the puck to and I didn’t want to dump it in.

Team Czech Republic Gear -- The ensuing goal, by Evgeni Malkin, made it 3-1. Was that critical?

Jagr -- Of course. It changed the game. Especially for me, it was a horrible feeling. I felt like I let the guys down. But that’s the sport. -- Through three games of these Olympics, your Czech team has been as impressive as any. How do you feel about its chances entering the medal round?

Jagr (smiling) -- You know what? It reminds me of Nagano, we won the first two games, same thing. We played Russia for first place. We lost. Then we played them in the final (and won, 1-0, for the gold medal). It looks like the same scenario. We’ll see what happens.

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