BRIGHTON, MA — It was easy to imagine former Boston Bruins winger Jaromir Jagr simply playing hockey forever watching him still in the NHL a few years ago at the age of 46 years old, and as the rare owner/player these days for his Kladno team in the Czech Republic.
The future Hall of Famer had racked up 766 goals and 1,921 points in his 1,733-game career while skating for the Penguins, Capitals, Rangers, Flyers, Stars, Bruins, Devils, Panthers and Flames, and had played the last five seasons for the Czech team he also owns.
But it sounds like a 50-year-old Jagr has lost that loving feeling for being a hockey player skating with teammates where he’s old enough to be their dad, and has really lost the enthusiasm for the diet, training and lifestyle it takes to keep playing professional hockey at his advanced hockey age. Jagr said as much to iSport.cz in an interview this week that has the legendary winger no longer “having the motivation” to play even in his home Czech League.
“To be honest, I don’t even feel like going back. If there was a Winter Classic, which I promised, I would probably have to force myself to go play. Otherwise, it doesn’t pull me back. Honestly, I don’t have motivation, I don’t have the appetite,” said Jagr, with the help of Google translate. “I like hockey, but it’s hard work. Physically very demanding. I spend much more time on the winter than before, mainly because of organizational things [for Kladno].
“Before the season we were a bit stressed, we had to deal with a lot of issues to manage the first game. Even if I wasn’t the owner and only had hockey to do, I would still have trouble playing and training [and] just focusing on hockey. It’s more or less impossible that way. Or I’d have to stop focusing on the club altogether, which I don’t think would help.”
Beyond that, Jagr had just eight goals and 19 points in 43 games for Kladno last season and knows in his heart that he’s not the player he was 30 years ago, or even 10 years ago when he finished with 16 goals and 35 points splitting the lockout-shortened season between the Dallas Stars and Boston Bruins.
“Now I know that even if I did my best, I wouldn’t even fit into the four lines,” said Jagr, of the situation with Kladno. “We don’t have bad players. To get into the lineup, I would have to soak a lot. And maybe I couldn’t even do it. I would have to sacrifice a lot, diet, regeneration, training.”
That sounds like the exact, old hockey song you hear from so many veterans when it comes to NHL retirement time. It’s not about keeping pace during games or losing so much due to age that they can’t compete, but it’s instead about older hockey players that simply don’t want to put themselves through the intense training and disciplined lifestyle it takes to be in the NHL.
David Krejci was apprised of his former Boston Bruins and Czech national teammate mulling retirement back in his native Czech, and once again pointed to Jagr’s legendary run with the Pittsburgh Penguins as the biggest reason he started playing hockey in the first place back in Czech.
“I haven’t seen these rumors [of Jagr’s retirement]. I haven’t been on the internet much lately,” said Krejci. “Once he retires, we can finally celebrate the accomplishments of his career. He’s done so much not just for hockey in general, but for the country of [Czech Republic]. He and Dominik Hasek pretty much put the Czech Republic on the map in the hockey world. He’s the reason why I started to play hockey, so when he retires, we can finally celebrate his career.”
Everybody in the hockey world should get the Jagr celebration party ready because it sure sounds like he’s ready to retire from playing after being a physical marvel at 50 years old keeping up with players less than half his age.