45-year-old forward will play first game since signing one-year contract on Oct. 4
Forward Jaromir Jagr will make his debut for the Calgary Flames against the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on Wednesday (10:30 p.m. ET; FS-W, SNW, NHL.TV).
Jagr, 45, has been practicing with the Flames, skating on a line with left wing Kris Versteeg and center Sam Bennett, since signing a one-year, $1 million contract on Oct. 4. He will play with them against the Kings.
“He’s practiced on that line. He’s been here a week, so there’s no need to make it any bigger than it is,” coach Glen Gulutzan said after the morning skate. “We had those chats already. Now they’ve just got to go out and play. Jags had been in on all the meetings and knows the systems. [We have to] just make sure he gets the right amount of minutes and see how it goes with the chemistry.”
Jagr, who had 46 points (16 goals, 30 assists) with the Florida Panthers last season, said he’s not expecting to make an instant impact with his new team but expects to be a contributor.
“I care a lot. I want to play the best I can play,” he said. “I know it’s not going to be very good, but hopefully in some games I can be better.”
“I always go there to perform at a high level. It’s not about me. It’s about the team and about my teammates. I want to help them. I don’t want to be there just to be there. I want to help them, make them better.”
Wednesday will be Jagr’s 1,712 NHL game, fourth on the League’s all-time list. His 765 NHL goals are third behind Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801).
“Nobody really cares what you did 20 years ago,” Jagr said when asked about his career accomplishments, which include five NHL scoring titles. “Show me what you can do for us now.”
Jagr’s work ethic has already made an impression on his new teammates.
“Just to see how hard he’s worked in the last week has really impressed a lot of our people, just with the amount of time he puts in on his game,” Gulutzan said. “That leaves a good impression on guys.”
The Flames wanted to make sure Jagr was ready for game action before putting him into the lineup.
“He needed to get up to speed. I mean, it’s not like there was a perfect day. He had no training camp. As much as everyone wanted him to come in and play and just jump in, he needed to skate and play and get up to speed,’ Gulutzan said. “He flew from [the] Czech [Republic] on Wednesday. He’s a great player, but he needed to play and skate and have some practices under his belt with the group.”
The Flames are 2-1-0 after winning 2-0 at the Anaheim Ducks on Monday.