Fans hoping to get a glimpse of Jaromir Jagr at the World Cup of Hockey this September will be disappointed, as the veteran winger confirmed to Czech Republic GM Martin Rucinsky it’s a no-go for the upcoming tournament.
Rucinsky told Czech publication Denik Sport that Jagr took a week to think about the decision, according to NHL.com. After taking his time to think about it, the 44-year-old winger, who announced his retirement from international competition following the 2015 World Championship, has decided to stay retired and remain off the roster for the tournament.
"We spoke to each other during the weekend and his final decision was he wouldn't be going," Rucinsky said, via NHL.com. "It would be too difficult for him to get ready for such an important tournament during the summer. And he said at last year's World Championship that he was done with the national team. He also will have a lot of work with Kladno [the Czech league team Jagr owns]. He wants to do some work with the team and therefore wouldn't be able to get ready for the World Cup in time."
With how well Jagr has played over the past few seasons, his decision not to play in the tournament is rather unfortunate for the Czechs. Since the start of the 2013-14 campaign, when Jagr was with the New Jersey Devils, the surefire-Hall of Famer has scored 68 goals and 180 points. This past season with the Florida Panthers, Jagr notched 27 goals and 66 points to lead the upstart team in scoring. He finished six points clear of the next highest scoring player and helping to lead the Panthers to their first division title in franchise history and first playoff berth since 2011-12. He signed a one-year, $4-million extension with Florida in May.
Jagr has been the face of the Czech team at the international level for much of his career and he’s one of the most productive players for the country. In his one previous World Cup appearance, Jagr scored one goal and two points in five games. He’s managed nine goals and 23 points in 28 games in Olympic play, and at the World Championship, Jagr has 21 goals and 42 points in 45 games. At the 2015 World Championship, right before he announced his retirement, Jagr was named the tournament’s MVP with six goals and nine points in 10 games.
Jagr’s absence from the Czech roster means a changing of the guard is officially underway for the nation, and if the Czech Republic’s showing at the 2016 World Championship is any indication, they appear to be in good hands going forward. The Czechs finished atop Group A, ahead of Russia and Sweden, but bowed out in the quarter-final round thanks to a shootout loss at the hands of Team USA.
The Czech squad was led in scoring by Roman Cervenka and Michel Birner, but youngsters David Pastrnak and Radek Faksa, both of whom played well in the tournament, are among those who could be the future of the team.