At the risk of turning this into a Jaromir Jagr blog (it’s summer, what else is there to talk about?) here’s another interview with the big Czech, this one from Russian sports daily Sport Express (see below).
In other news, Soviet Sport reports that Jagr, along with his Avangard teammates and Ranger prospect Alexei Cherepanov, will take part in the 19th annual Siberian International Marathon on August 2nd. The players will run an amateur distance of 4 kilometers in support of the Omsk athletes who are headed to Beijing for the Olympic Games.
And finally, here’s another video feature on Jagr’s arrival in Omsk. The video documents his arrival in Omsk and shows him in and around Omsk Arena, including a staged attempt to buy tickets to an Avangard game from the arena box office, only to discover he had no money. The clip includes a number of interview spots with Jagr in which he speaks in English with the Russian translation overdubbed, but if you listen closely you can pick up most of what he says in English.
And now, without further ado, the interview.
Jaromir Jagr: “I Have Left the NHL Forever”
Yesterday before Avangard’s evening practice the celebrated Jaromir Jagr, who arrived in Omsk early in the morning, gave an interview to a small group of journalists. Among them was this correspondent for Sport-Express.
Your correspondent tried to begin the conversation with Jagr in English, but the Czech at once stated that out of principle he will communicated only in Russian. “You ask your questions in the native language, and if the answers are too difficult for me, my agent will translate from Czech. There is no reason for me to be lazy – this is is part of my job”, with a laugh remarked Jardo.
- Have you ever been received as warmly as you were today in Omsk? Perhaps in Prague, after the gold medal in Nagano in 98…
- I was very warmly seen off from New York (laughing). They waved actively, like this: go away, they said, go away from here.
– Does a sense of resentment towards North America remain?
- Not really, no. I had some offers from overseas clubs. So I was still wanted.
- The NHL will very easily give up on veterans. Are you affended by such an attitude towards aging stars?
- Me personally – no. In the end, nobody drove me from North America. Here’s another thing. Each hockey player perfectly aware of how much he is worth and what salary he deserves. And so, when you agree to take half of that salary, you become extraordinarily popular in the NHL.
- Do you feel that you’re a veteran?
- I’m a veteran?! I feel like I’m 18, no, 16 years old! (laughing)
- You remain only a short way from the top of the list of best forwards of all time in the NHL.
- Another couple of season and I could probably have overtaken the second or third place. But now its to late to think about that. Now let Ovechkin try to do that. The main thing to acheive such an objective is to avoid injuries, so I wish for him for first of all health.
- Incidentally, about health. Andrei Nazarov, who protected you during the lockout season, has now left to be a coach. Is it necessary now for Avangard to have a tough guy of that level?
- I have gotten used to a rough and agressive game. But I myself play only clean hockey. And another thing, unsportsmanlike methods drive me crazy. So that guy who is able to work his fists, won’t bother us.
- According to Alexei Kovalev’s stories, you fought with someone in the NHL not so long ago.
- No, it was purely a water cooler tale. There tough guys fight only with tough guys.
- Known “police officer” Chris Simon, will play in the KHL for Vityaz, you’re not at all afraid?
- He was my teammate in Washington, and I remember that Simon was able to play good hockey.
- But his team, Vityaz, fights far more than it plays.
- Everyone’s aim is to win, Vityaz is no different.
- What do you think about the situation around Alexander Radulov? Would you leave for another league while having an operating contract with a club in the NHL?
- It is difficult for me to judge. The age of the hockey player plays a great roll in making these decisions. A young forward should always feel he has the prospect of growth in skill and salary with a club.
- Is the transition to the Russian league the most serious step in your career?
- Definitely. With this decision I broke off with the NHL. I closed off any path of return. Therefore I has strong doubts before making the final decision.
– You agent says that a call from the regional governor Leonid Polezhaev played a deciding roll in your choice of Omsk. What did he tell you?
- We didn’t talk about money. All details were coordinated during negitionations with general manager Anatoli Bardin. However, I, in leaving the NHL forever, needed serious guarantees. I wanted to be sure that the GM had the authority to offer me such a big contract, that he had the right to sign players of my level. I hoped to receive guarantees of serious intentions from the governor, with whom I was still familiar from the lockout season.
- What are your impressions of Omsk Arena?
- It’s true that in North America there are larger arenas. But Omsk Arena concedes nothing to its American “competitors” in terms of comfort for players. And the area in which the history of the team is displayed is superbly done.
- Avangard coach Sergei Gersonski plans to use you on a line with your fellow countrymen [Pavel] Rosa and [Jakub] Klepis.
- I don’t know much about them as players. We’ll need to work together.
- But in fact on the Rangers, it was easier for your to play with Czech linemates, than with others?
- Yes, but, for example, I had played together with Straka in Pittsburg. And as a whole I was very familiar with the Czech guys on the Rangers.
- You have agreed to play for the Czech National Team. Will we see you at the Moscow stage of the Eurotour in December?
- Most likely, I will only play in the last stage — the Ceska Pojistovna Cup — before the World Championships. In any case, that in particular is what I agreed to with the team’s head coach Vladimir Ruzicka.
- What do you remember most of all about your reception at the airport in Omsk?
- The fans made a huge inflatable bear with my number. But, where has he disapeared to? Did he burst? I bet he was drunk. (Laughs)
- Is it true that you do not drink at all, even on vacation? For Russians, a Czech who does not drink some beer is a very strange thing.
- For someone who wants to play at the top level for 15-20 years, I categorically do not advise being on friendly terms with that pursuit. For me certainly it all came from my upbringing, from childhood. Nobody drank at home, and I got used to such an order of things. And when you see beer in the refridgerator every day, you have a completely different relationship towards it. Instead, I love sweets.
- When will your girlfriend arrive?
- Yesterday she arrived from overseas, but she has gone to visit relatives in the Ukraine. At the beginning of the season she will come back to me.
- There were rumors that she did not want to go to Russia.
- Not at all! She, by the way, knows Russian well. At home we speak it only, to bring up my level.
Spooky and Kogan, that one was for you guys — thanks for reading!
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