The owner of Rytiri Kladno of the Czech Republic’s WSM Liga hit the ice on Wednesday with his players and stated a goal of being ready to play games at some point in September.
That owner wasn’t a random rich person playing out a fantasy beer league dream, however. The No. 68 on the back of his helmet and the tied mullet would give away his identity to any fan since it was Jaromir Jagr.
“It’s not easy. I was glad I survived the first training, but I’ll do the best to make it better every day,” Jagr told reporters after practice (via iSport).
The 46-year-old Jagr is co-owner of Kladno and returned there after a stint with the Calgary Flames during the 2017-18 season lasted only 22 games before he was sidelined with a knee injury. The Flames waived Jagr before assigning him to Kladno for the rest of the year. He only scored once and finished with seven points after signing a one-year, $1 million contract in early October.
“I would be more happy if I was in the NHL now, but as a second option, this is the place I want to be,” he told the New York Times in April. “I got an opportunity and for whatever reason I didn’t play my best and I got injured.”
In his return to Kladno, Jagr played only five games as the Knights fell short of winning promotion to the Czech first division for the first time since the 2013-14 season.
Despite battling through the knee injury, Jagr wasn’t ready to retire. He’s stated he wants to play beyond the age of 50 and that was looking like a decent bet after two years with the Florida Panthers where he played 79 and 82 games, respectively. Only time will tell if last season was reality at age 46 or an aberration for the legendary fitness freak.
Kladno has a 10-game preseason schedule which begins July 31 before the regular season opens up on Sept. 8. Jagr said his goal is to be ready for the season opener.
“I believe that before the season begins I can prepare enough to be able to play the whole game. That’s at least in my plan,” he said.
Jagr, who made his NHL debut during the 1990-91 season, noted that at the moment he does have some restrictions when it comes to training, but added, “I believe that when the leg and the whole body strengthens with more frequent workouts and those outside the ice, it will only improve.”