Jagr signs with Russian club
Russian hockey club Avangard Omsk said on its website Friday that it had signed Jaromir Jagr for the upcoming season, just one day after the New York Rangers said they were moving ahead without the superstar.
The club in the Continental Hockey League announced the signing on its website, but did not disclose the terms of the contract. Jagr played for Avangard during the NHL's lockout season in 2004-05.
The player's agent, Pat Brisson, later confirmed the move.
Jagr has spent the last four years of his NHL career with the Rangers.
"Jaromir signed a letter of intent with the Avangard Omsk Hockey team of the Russian CHL on or about 3 a.m. ET this morning," said Brisson in a statement. "I won't comment on the terms of the agreement at this time.
"It was a very difficult but personal decision to make in light of the many NHL teams interested in his services. `He is grateful to the NHL and especially the Rangers in recent years."
New York on Thursday signed longtime Vancouver Canucks captain Markus Naslund to a two-year, $8-million US deal. Rangers general manager Glen Sather said he couldn't wait any longer for Jagr to commit to the team for next season.
"Jagr was very respectful when I talked to him and gave him the information that we're going to move on," Sather said.
"I kind of always got the feeling that maybe there was something in Russia that is really looking at him," Sather added. "We never got to that situation where I knew exactly what he was looking for, whether it was a one-year or a two-year [offer]…. It's pretty tough to negotiate with yourself."
Points total lowest in 16 seasons
Jagr, 36, had completed the final season of his seven-year, $78-million US contract, but the captain and Sather could not work out a new agreement.
Jagr led the Rangers with 71 points in the regular season, but it was his lowest total in 16 seasons.
He could have triggered an additional year in his contract by reaching 85 points or winning the Conn Smythe Trophy, but failed to do either despite playing well down the stretch and into the playoffs.
"I'm not going to say anything bad about the Rangers or about Glen," Jagr told the New York Daily News on Thursday night. "They were always good to me. And you have to admit, I did a good job for the money they paid me."
11th on all-time playoff points list
The Kladno, Czech Republic, native has scored 646 goals and 953 assists in 1,273 NHL games with New York, Washington and Pittsburgh.
He ranks 12th all-time in goals and ninth overall with 1,599 points. The right-winger has added 181 playoff points, good for 11th on the all-time list.
Jagr won the Art Ross Trophy as top scorer in the NHL five times and captured the Hart Trophy in 1999 as league most valuable player.
He won two Stanley Cups with the Penguins.
Sather said on Thursday we would be willing to talk with Jagr again "if things don't work out for him in Russia."
If Jagr suits up his for the club, located in Siberia, he could be playing alongside one of the future stars of the Rangers, Alexei Cherepanov. Also signed to the team are longtime NHL goaltender John Grahame and Jakub Klepis, former first-round pick of the Ottawa Senators.
With files from the Associated Press