The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/23/11 at 04:59 PM ET
The agent for Jaromir Jagr said on Thursday that the forward is “99 percent’’ sure to return to the NHL rather than sign with a Russian team but that he can’t sign a contract until July 1, the start of free agency. Petr Svobda said Jagr still hasn’t decided which NHL club to join after playing in Russia the past three seasons. The Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins are the only teams with confirmed interest. Another team or two might be in the mix.
“It is going to be the NHL,’’ Svobda said. “Something (unexpected) would have to happen for him to go back to Russia. I’d say it’s 99 percent certain he’ll play in the NHL. He’s got teams he’d rather go to because he’s got a very good chance of winning. Detroit is one possibility. He likes their team concept.’‘
As noted in the mid-day post, the Penguins’ press believes that there’s a sense that Jagr’s waiting for Mario Lemieux to step in and convince Ray Shero to sign Jagr, but, depending on who you believe, the Penguins are either going to match the Wings’ reported $2.5 million offer or they’re going to ask Jagr to take less—and TSN’s Bob McKenzie has revealed that the “mystery team” is Montreal. Jagr’s a pal of Tomas Plekanec’s and he’s always been intrigued by playing in La Belle Province, but the bottom line is that Jagr’s making the Wings wait to see what the Penguins can offer him and whether they’re really interested in bringing him back.
Update: Per ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun:
Jaromir Jagr spoke with Pittsburgh Penguins owner and former teammate Mario Lemieux on Wednesday but continues to mull whether to return to the NHL or stay in Russia.The Penguins and Detroit Red Wings remain the front-runners, although Jagr’s agent Peter Svoboda says other NHL teams are calling.
“I think he’s going to be in the NHL, that’s what I think,” Svoboda told ESPN.com Thursday.
Svoboda said he’s been made aware that Jagr can’t sign with an NHL club until July 1. He didn’t say which NHL team his client might play for.
“He really wants to make a great decision, not based on money,” said Svoboda. “He really wants to prove what kind of player he is. He’s taking this seriously. He’s been working out like a dog.”
Via RedWingsFeed, from the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan:
The agent for Jaromir Jagr insists Jagr will play in the NHL this season, but says a decision on where Jagr will play won’t come before July 1. Petr Svoboda, Jagr’s agent, said Jagr isn’t using the NHL for leverage for a better deal in the Russian Kontinental Hockey League, where Jagr has played the last three seasons.
“He’s a guy that loves hockey like no one else,” said Svoboda from the Czech Republic. “He’s trying to make the best decision for everyone involved. His goal is to come back to the NHL. He’s 39 but he has a lot of hockey left and his conditioning is impeccable. He’s up for the challenge.”
The NHL free-agent signing period begins July 1. Svoboda said he’s been in contact with Wings general manager Ken Holland the last couple of days. Pittsburgh and a third team, believed to be Montreal, according to several reports out of Canada, are also interested in Jagr.
“It’s about where the best fit for him is,” Svoboda said.
Svoboda will travel to Minnesota for the NHL draft, which is Friday and Saturday. Jagr earned close to $6 million for Avangard Omsk in Russia last season.
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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.