Veteran still getting up to speed, Curtis Lazar to skate with Sam Bennett and Kris Versteeg
Jaromir Jagr was still out on the Scotiabank Saddledome ice, being put through his paces, even as Glen Gulutzan spoke in in front of the Flames’ backdrop for his post-morning-skate media availability Saturday.
“No, he’s out,” confirmed the coach, referencing the ageless icon everyone hereabouts can’t wait to see model Flaming C duds for the first time. “He’s in Day 2 of training camp.
“Curtis Lazar is in.”
Arriving without the benefit of a camp and endeavouring to work himself back into game sharpness, the 45-year-old Jagr was given the final call on whether he felt up to speed enough to help raise the roof at Calgary’s home-opener against the Winnipeg Jets Saturday night (8 p.m., TV: Sportsnet One, Radio: Sportsnet 960 The FAN).
Jagr feels he needs more time.
It was always a big ask, expecting someone, even a someone as accomplished as the NHL’s second all-time leading scorer, to get up to speed after such a short period of top-gear preparation.
“Jags will know when he’s ready,” said captain Mark Giordano. “There are 81 games left.
“Whether it’s tonight, whether it’s Monday or next week, a few games really doesn’t make a difference in the big picture. You want him feeling ready.
“But right now, we all want to see him play, right?
“This is actually the time of year where you can actually get some quality practices in, hour-long practices. It’s a lot tougher jumping in the last 20 games when there are basically no practices.
“He’s gotten some good reps. You see the skill, the talent. That’s always going to be there. For him, it’s just getting in that game shape.
“He’s played a long, long time. I’m sure he has a good idea when he feels good enough to play.”
The earliest Jagr can make his debut, then, would be Monday night versus the Ducks in Anaheim.
“He just said he felt a lot better the second day than he did the first,” said Gulutzan, “and that he probably needs a couple more skates, good skates.
“Pretty remarkable, though. I thought he was very good (Friday), for a 45-year-old guy to come in with no training camp and arguably be one of our best guys.
“But he needs a couple more days to get up to game speed.”