Reports confirm Jaromir Jagr wants to play in Detroit

Jaromir Jagr, one of the game’s most prolific scorers and five-time Art Ross Trophy Winner, appears to be ready to return to the NHL after three seasons abroad playing in the Russian KHL.

Word initially popped up several weeks ago during the World Championships that Jagr had a desire to come back to the NHL, but nothing was certain and Jagr was staying tight lipped about his plans for next season. Several teams were interested in Jagr’s services and it was speculated that Jagr had interest in playing for a handful of select teams, including his former teams the New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins.

Now it appears as if Jagr might be interested in a different location: Detroit.

Rumors first surfaced earlier this week that Jagr was interested in donning the Winged Wheel, but it was brushed off as mere speculation about who would be a good fit for Jagr – not definitive word from his camp on where he wanted to play. Now, several major media outlets in Detroit are reporting that Jagr’s agent, Petr Svoboda, has indeed been in touch with Detroit general manager Ken Holland and Jagr himself talked with Detroit head coach Mike Babcock and the message is clear – if Jagr returns to the NHL, his preferred destination is Detroit.

In fact, it was evidently Svoboda who called Detroit about the possibility of his client playing for the Wings, not vice versa. Holland declined to comment on the situation stating only that the team is exploring the idea of bringing Jagr to Detroit. Svoboda reportedly also contacted the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens to gauge their interest in Jagr.

Jagr’s recent play at the World Championships, where he scored five goals and added three assists in eight games, showed he still has what it takes to compete at a high level of hockey. Jagr would bring plenty of experience to the Wings, not to mention a great scoring touch, and the 39-year-old could benefit from playing with world class talent such as Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Lidstrom (if he returns). Detroit also has plenty of cap space after the retirement of Brian Rafalski, but most of that is expected to go toward bringing in a free agent defenseman or two to help replace Rafalski on the blue line.

However, the Wings are leery of Jagr due to his advanced age and the fact that he hasn’t played in the NHL for three seasons. The NHL is a much tougher grind for players because of the 82-game season, as opposed to the 56-game season of the KHL. Playing in Detroit would also mean more travel as well and Detroit worries whether Jagr could keep pace.

Make no mistake, Detroit will not over pay for Jagr’s services and hand out a lucrative contract based on a name, but the Wings are definitely interested in Jagr and will try to work him into their lineup at a reasonable price.

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