Sports

Jaromir Jagr postpones debut with Calgary Flames, skips home-opener

The 45-year-old opted not to play in Saturday's opener against the Winnipeg Jets. Head coach Glen Gulutzan said when Jagr plays the first game of his 24th NHL season is his decision.

Jaromir Jagr has a laugh after being introduced as the newest Calgary Flames player at a press conference in Calgary, Alta., on Oct. 4, 2017. Jaromir Jagr opted not to play in the Calgary Flames home-opener Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets. Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan said the 45-year-old winger, who signed a contract Sunday and arrived in Calgary three days later, needs a couple more skates before he feels ready to get in the lineup. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal

Jaromir Jagr has a laugh after being introduced as the newest Calgary Flames player at a press conference in Calgary, Alta., on Oct. 4, 2017. Jaromir Jagr opted not to play in the Calgary Flames home-opener Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets. Flames head coach Glen Gulutzan said the 45-year-old winger, who signed a contract Sunday and arrived in Calgary three days later, needs a couple more skates before he feels ready to get in the lineup. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal

CALGARY — Jaromir Jagr wants more time before making his debut with the Calgary Flames.

The 45-year-old right-winger opted not to play in Calgary's home-opener Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.

After arriving Wednesday from his native Czech Republic, Jagr had two practices and Saturday's pre-game skate with his new team.

Head coach Glen Gulutzan said when Jagr plays the first game of his 24th NHL season is his decision.

"He said he felt a lot better the second day than he did the first and that he probably needs a couple more skates, good skates," Gulutzan said Saturday before the game. "I thought he was very good yesterday, for a 45-year-old guy to come in with no training camp. He was arguably one of our best guys yesterday, but he needs a couple more days to get up to game speed."

Second only to Wayne Gretzky in all-time NHL scoring with 1,914 points, Jagr signed a one-year, US$1-million contract with the Flames on Sunday.

If the six-foot-three, 213-pound forward from Kladno plays 57 games this season, he'll pass Gordie Howe for the most played in a career (1,767).

After hosting the Jets, the Flames head out on a two-game California road trip to Anaheim on Monday and Los Angeles on Wednesday. Calgary's next home game is Friday against the Ottawa Senators.

Jagr skated on a line with centre Sam Bennett and left-winger Kris Versteeg upon his arrival.

"We'll be ready for whenever he's ready," Versteeg said. "I'm still going to prepare the same way.

"Obviously, when you're playing with a guy like Jaromir or a different player, there's different characteristics and strengths in their game, but for me I still prepare the same way.

"I still want to bring out my strengths that can help my linemates."

Curtis Lazar drew into Saturday's lineup in the absence of Jagr.

Jagr didn't speak to the media Saturday, but said earlier in the week a summer spent not knowing if he'd ever play in the NHL again detracted from his off-season training.

"If I'd stayed in Europe, I would have probably taken a month to get ready before I play some games," he said after his first skate.

"Now I cannot do that. It's a challenge and that's why I have to go day by day. Hopefully it's going to come back quick."

A five-time winner of the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's top scorer, Jagr won back-to-back Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992.

He also earned the Hart Trophy as the NHL's most valuable player in 1999.

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