There’s one hockey team that really wants Jaromir Jagr and is letting it be known – the Florida Everblades.
The Everblades, the ECHL team affiliated with the Carolina Hurricanes and Charlotte Checkers, said Monday they were extending the offer of a roster spot to Jagr for the 2017-18 season. They will have jersey No. 68 ready and waiting for the future Hockey Hall of Famer.
Jagr is 45 and became an NHL unrestricted free agent on July 1 after the Florida Panthers did not offer him a new contract. Neither has any of the 30 other NHL teams, including the expansion Vegas Golden Knights – Las Vegas being a spot many aging celebrities tend to land.
Jagr ranks second in career points in the NHL with 1,914. The Czech forward has played 1,711 games and twice won Stanley Cups with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the early 1990s, where one of his teammates was Ron Francis, the Canes’ executive vice president and general manager.
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Francis was asked the day before NHL free agency began if he had spoken with Jagr, who once referred to Francis – a Hockey Hall of Fame member – as the most underrated player in NHL history. Francis said he had not talked to Jagr, and apparently many other NHL GMs could say the same.
Several Canes prospects competed for the Everblades last season, including defensemen Josh Wesley and Tyler Ganly, forward Clark Bishop and goalie Alex Nedeljkovic.
The Everblades, owned by Canes owner Peter Karmanos Jr., will be celebrating their 20th anniversary next season. So why not invite Jagr to be part of the celebration?
The Everblades said they’re willing to allow Jagr to have a “Weekend Warrior” role, more or less allowing him to play in selected games and saving him the stress of long bus road trips. The team did note it has a sleeper bus stocked with Diet Coke and muffins – one of the selling points to Jagr along with a “chance to see an alligator” in the pond next to the arena.
If Jagr is still unsigned by an NHL team by September, the offer should still be there.
“The NHL’s loss could become our gain,” Alex Reed, the team’s public relations manager, said in a statement. “He is a high-end player who wants to win, and that kind of mindset fits in well with our winning tradition.”