Jagr Not Happy To Return To Washington

13 Dec

VOORHEES, N.J. — The allure is starting to wear off for Jaromir Jagr. For the third time in a month, he will play against a former team. The 39-year-old isn’t so happy to be playing in Washington on Tuesday, but it has nothing to do with the fact that the Capitals are his former team.

“I don’t like that arena much,” said Jagr. “I’ve not really had luck there. It’s a tough place to play, even if I was in Pittsburgh and New York. It was always tough. But hopefully we can stay on winning.”

In seven games since being traded to the New York Rangers, he has two goals and six assists at the Verizon Center. Eight points in seven games is hardly struggling for an NHL player. Evidently, by Jagr’s standards that’s not good enough.

Much like Pittsburgh, Washington fans say they have a bad taste in their mouths because of Jagr. After scoring 121 points in 81 games with the Penguins, he got 79 points in 69 games in his debut season with the Capitals. Halfway through his third season in the nation’s capital, he was shipped to New York. He hasn’t thought much about his time there since.

“I think it’s like seven or eight years, the last time I played there,” he said.

While the fans may still be sour on Jagr, the current Caps are not. They know that he’ll present a challenge to the Capitals who have won two in a row and own one of the league’s best records at home at 10-4-1.

“When I’ve seen him play, he’s been playing real well,” Capitals coach Dale Hunter told reporters in Washington. “He looks in great shape and he’s moving his legs. I don’t know how old he is. You commit yourself like he has, and he’s having a great season.”

Between a coach who hasn’t even been around for seven games and a very young Capitals team, there’s no one left but Jeff Halpern from the last team that Jagr played for in Washington and even he left and came back. So the young Caps don’t know Jagr very well first-hand, only from the Oct. 20 5-2 win over the Flyers.

“He’s one of the best players ever to play in this league and to play the game,” Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner told reporters in Washington. “It doesn’t matter what age he’s going to be, he’s still going to bring something to the table. Playing against him last time, he is hard because he’s good at defending the puck.

“He’s great with his stick and he’s still got a little bit of the pre-lockout rules in him – you can tell with his clutching and grabbing. He gets away with it pretty good. He’s a smart player.”

Jagr has only 12 penalty minutes this season, so if he is “clutching and grabbing,” he is getting away from it. But his concern isn’t so much getting away with penalties as it is continuing his hot streak. He has seven points in the last five games.

Whether that comes against one of his former teams or not, that doesn’t much matter to the 39-year-old.

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