Pre-game reading: On Jaromir Jagr, who wasn’t always so beloved

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— Up top, celebrate Jaromir Jagr‘s 45th birthday by remembering the day he was drafted fifth overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The four players selected before Jagr were Owen Nolan, Petr Nedved, Keith Primeau, and Mike Ricci. That year, 1990, was also the year Keith Tkachuk (19th), Doug Weight (34th), and Peter Bondra (156th) were drafted.

— Those old enough will know that Jagr wasn’t always such a beloved player. His stint with the Washington Capitals was certainly a forgettable one, as Jonas Siegel of the Canadian Press recalls. “Capitals management took the whole experience as a lesson that it was better to build around young players and draft picks than expensive superstars in free agency. They traded Jagr to the Rangers in January 2004, his Washington tenure lasting less than 200 games including the playoffs.” (Canadian Press)

— Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg isn’t quite Jagr’s age, but at 36, he’s no spring chicken in a young man’s league. Neither for that matter is teammate Niklas Kronwall, also 36. “It’s getting end of the road here for us, and you’ve just got to enjoy it as much as you can,” says Zetterberg. “And not be as down as you’ve probably been before when you haven’t played as good enough. Or, when the team’s not doing well, you’ve got to find the good things and the happy things and try to keep your head up.” (Sports Illustrated)

— Sticking with the “old guy” theme, here’s something by Pierre LeBrun on 39-year-old Jarome Iginla, a pending unrestricted free agent. “Could a reunion with his former Calgary Flames coach/GM Darryl Sutter be a possibility? A source told ESPN.com that the Los Angeles Kings have kicked around the merits of that idea given that history between their coach and Iginla. Whether the Kings actually decide to act on it and call Colorado about it remains to be seen.” (ESPN)

— Retired goalie Corey Hirsch opens up about his battle with OCD, writing in The Players’ Tribune: “I can still recall the exact moment that my brain started lying to me.” It’s an excellent piece, well worth the read. Though most of it is quite dark, Hirsch ends on a hopeful note, for those who may be suffering from the same affliction. (The Players’ Tribune)

— The Montreal Gazette’s Jack Todd thinks Claude Julien is the right man to coach the Habs. “I’ve dealt with every Canadiens coach since Pat Burns and to me, Julien and Alain Vigneault are numbers 1A and 1B when it comes to honesty, decency and character. In my world, character matters. Julien has character. He’s the real deal, salt of the earth, a standup guy, whatever you want to call him.” (Montreal Gazette)

Enjoy the games!

Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics

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The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

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Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev

Report: Lupul will have ‘independent medical exam’

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Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.

A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.

That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:

Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.

Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.

“The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.

“The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”

Team USA won’t include NHL draft-eligible prospects at 2018 Olympics

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.

Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.

USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.

Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.