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Report: Jaromir Jagr Will Test the Market

Jun 18, 2012, 2:26 PM EDT

It seemed fair to say Jagr was glad he chose Philadelphia when he returned to the NHL following a three year absence. Thing is, he might not want to choose Philly again.

Jaromir Jagr seemed pretty broken up following the Flyers’ elimination from the playoffs, offering this message to reporters when asked about his uncertain future:

“I have to say, thanks for the support from the fans. I love everyone on this team. That was probably the most enjoyable year I’ve ever had. I’ve won some cups, I’ve won some trophies, but I loved this year. From the organization to the last player on the team, and the fans, they were so nice to me. I hate to finish it right now, that’s the worst feeling. You finish the whole story, the whole year, that’s a sad day, today for me…I wanna cry right now.”

We wrote immediately following that it was unclear whether those comments were just his emotions getting the better or him, or if he had really grown to feel that way over the course of the season. Either way, it seemed fair to say Jagr was glad he chose Philadelphia when he returned to the NHL following a three year absence.

Thing is, he might not want to choose Philly again.

TSN’s Darren Dreger (as found on ProHockeyTalk) is tweeting that Jagr “enjoyed Philadelphia, but will test free agency,” and has quotes from Flyers’ general manager Paul Holmgren, who says Jagr’s chances of returning are 50/50.

“I haven’t spoken to Jaromir or his agent [since] within two days after the season was over,” Holmgren said. “We left it at we would talk later on near the end of June. Again, we don’t know what the salary cap is going to be, so there is a lot of variables that we have to wait on.”

The news comes just 12 days after Jagr’s agent, former Flyer defenseman Petr Svaboda, told CSNPhilly that the 40-year-old Czech forward wanted to stay with the Flyers.

“I’ve talked to Jaromir and I have talked to Paul [Holmgren] and we hope to get something done before the draft,” Svoboda said, adding that whatever impression Jagr left last month was no longer accurate.”

The impression referenced was Jagr’s unwillingness to publicly commit to a new deal when repeatedly asked about it that same night he discussed so enjoying his time with the team. In that same article, Tim Panaccio paints Jagr’s silence on the matter that night in contrast to “to Jan. 19 when he told reporters he was going to re-sign as a Flyer without reservation.”

So, what’s behind the back and forth? PHT offers this take on the matter:

If we had to guess, it could’ve come down to what role he would’ve played next year — after the Flyers were eliminated from the playoffs, Jagr expressed frustration at his ice time under head coach Peter Laviolette and wouldn’t publicly commit to re-signing in Philadelphia.

He certainly started out like the Jagr of old skating with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell, helping to mold the former into a superstar and the latter into a near 40-goal scorer, but as the season wore on, he began to like the Jagr who, no disrespect, was just plain old. The injuries began to pile up — as many speculated would be the case early in the year — his minutes decreased — especially in the playoffs — and he simply looked less effective on the ice than he had just a few months prior.

Of course, Dreger’s tweet also includes the news that Jagr “plans to change training to shed some lbs and get faster,” which PHT astutely ties to the expanding roles of Matt Read, Sean Couturier and Brayden Schenn. Then, of course, there’s James van Riemsdyk, who didn’t miss the entire season with injury, but certainly seems like he did.

The point is that should JVR not get swapped, an important qualifier considering how his name is dangled in trade rumors once a week, you’ll have both he and Schenn coming back to the lineup in a much larger role than they did last season, and Couturier, who certainly proved himself during both the regular season as playoffs, presumably assuming a larger chunk of the minutes. If Jagr wasn’t happy with his ice time towards the end of last season, it only makes sense to think he wouldn’t be anymore pleased as the kids above further take over the team.

That all aside, it’s certainly seemed like a long year hasn’t it? Just about twelve months ago, we were all taking in the shock of the Mike Richards and Jeff Carter deals, the signing of Ilya Bryzgalov and trying to make sense of the parallel universe that now included one of the great Flyers villains of all time.

Now, one summer later, Richie and Carts, two guys who weren’t traded to the same team, have won a cup together, the Flyers’ unknown rookies have become household names and we’re wondering whether this guy we once loved to boo wants to keep playing with a flying P on his chest.

Time flies — a point Jaromir Jagr seems to be learning the hard way.