Jaromir Jagr announced his retirement from international hockey after the 3-0 Czech loss to the U.S. in the bronze medal game. He spoke to reporters afterwards.
On his emotions after the game: I don’t really have any more emotions. I don’t even play with emotion when I play. I think emotion can kill you. You have to stay cool all the time no matter what happens. But it was nice to see that the fans enjoyed the hockey in our country. We knew that before: our fans are crazy about hockey. They all wanted to play, they all wanted to coach. They all understand it – or at least they think they understand it. [laughs]
On a possible return to the national team: No, I don’t think I can top that. Finishing at home, even though we didn’t get the medal. Finishing at home in my country, I think it’s time to go. I still love the game, but it’s kind of tough to play with guys who are 20 years younger than me. They’ve got different thinking than me.
On hearing fans chant his name: It’s kind of a bonus. I really appreciate it, and I think they really appreciate it. I came here to play for my country. In the big picture, as I already told the newspapers in Czech, it’s not about a medal. It’s all about the kids who watch the games and start analyzing the game. They start following the sport of hockey and maybe that’s going to change their lives. This is the big picture. It’s not about the medals. In 10 years, nobody really knows who won anyway. But maybe some kids and parents can be happy.
On having his national team career end this way: Every person in the world would like to change everything to the perfect picture. But it doesn’t work like that. You have to take the good and the bad with your life and move on.
On his views about the Canada-Russia final: It’s gonna be close. We played Canada. They were dominating in our whole tournament. They’ve got so many offensive stars. So does Russia. I think it’ll depend on who has a better goaltender and defensemen.
On his biggest career highlight: Hopefully it’s going to come! [laughs] Every moment in your hockey life, that’s the best moment, because it’s going to move you somewhere. It’s tough to pick one. If it’s one, it’s not the other one.
On whether he’d consider returning for the 2016 tournament in Russia: I’m not going there.
On U.S. goalie Connor Hellebuyck’s role in the Czech defeat: I don’t even know. I just have to blame us. We didn’t have enough good shots to score a goal on him. The goalies have made the biggest improvement over the last 15 or 20 years, in my hockey career. It’s really hard to score goals, especially in the NHL. You have to be very lucky to score goals. They’re better and better every day. They’re big, they’re quick, they’re athletic. It doesn’t matter. It can be the back-up or the third goalie. They’re all fantastic.
On Dominik Hasek’s induction to the IIHF Hall of Fame and whether he’s still the best goalie: Well, he’s not right now, because he hasn’t played for five years! [laughs] If he would practise for a year, he would be, probably.
On the future of Czech hockey: It’s tough to say. You look at the [U18 and U20] championships, and when I was younger, we finished top-three all the time. When you finish top-three, you build on it, and you get enough talent. In my time, in the 1990s and 2000s, we had around 90 players in the NHL. So if somebody said, “No! There is always somebody else,” well, we’ve got 30 [now]. It’s not only a different number. Unless the guys 18 or 20 years old start being in the medals, I don’t think it can change much. And you could see it: the US, Canada, and Sweden...they’re on top and they’re going to be on top for a bit.
On his plans for the off-season: I’m going to stay here for a little bit and then I’m going to go back to Florida. I have to pick up where I’m going to live and concentrate on next year. I believe we’ve got enough of a good team over there that let’s take a chance, let’s take a shot at the Stanley Cup.
AUTHOR: Lucas Aykroyd
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