Jaromir Jagr’s hockey future hinges on healing up knee

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The process is now, essentially, complete from an NHL perspective: the Calgary Flames waived Jaromir Jagr, he cleared waivers, and now he’s hoping to play for the team he owns in the Czech Republic.

When it comes to Jagr’s immediate future, the process is far from complete.

The knee injury that limited his productivity and then availability with the Flames is still an issue, as Jagr himself updated on his official Facebook page. Even a rough browser translation shows that he’s trying to warn excited fans that he’s not a guarantee to play. His goal is to be eligible to participate in the playoffs, but it’s not a sure thing because of that wonky knee.

NHL.com provides a more thorough translation, noting that Jagr doesn’t want fans to suffer as they watch “old grandpa hobble on the ice.” None of what he said is especially promising.

“But as games went on, it just got worse,” Jagr said. “The problem is also that when I bend the knee in a certain angle, it always weakens, the muscle just switches off. [This] is especially bad for me because my game has been based on physical play and one-on-one battles.”

Jagr is right about that. As his career has gone along and he’s no longer been able to leverage true superstar talent, he’s adapted his game, being able to use his stellar strength and fantastic hockey IQ to hog the puck when he can get it on his stick. With those knee issues, he’s been slowed even more, but maybe worse, his power has been limited as well.

Much of the focus is on that playoff push, and there’s no mention of the 2018 Winter Olympics, which are coming extremely soon.

The thought of Jagr having one more run in the Olympics – as remote a possibility as that probably was – seemed to be one silver lining for hockey fans hoping for one more glorious moment for the 45-year-old.

Let’s be honest. Not every star gets that John Elway moment, retiring with confetti coming down and a trophy in hand.

At least Jagr can retire knowing that he left without much of anything left in the tank, and on the bright side, this season was the only one in which the consensus was that he couldn’t really hang. (Some decried his lack of pace in Florida, but there were some great moments with the Panthers, too. And it’s not as though they’ve broken through without number 68 in the lineup this season.)

Here’s hoping that Jagr can play again in 2017-18, and maybe finish things off with some glory, even if it’s on a scale Jagr and his fans aren’t quite used to. It’s a testament to the fitness freak’s track record of maniacal training that injuries have been such a rare issue.

But yes, it’s still a bit sad to see things end this way, even if we’ve seen it happen with plenty of other greats before him.

(Not cool, Father Time. Not cool.)

More on Jagr’s days ending in the NHL

The day he (probably) saved the Penguins.

Jagr clears waivers, headed to Kladno.

The milestones Jagr nearly reached.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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