Jagr announces retirement

Czech great quits international game

25.05.2014
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One of the greatest Czech players ever announced the end of his national team career following the bronze medal game. Photo: Richard Wolowicz / HHOF-IIHF Images

Czech legend Jaromir Jagr has announced his retirement from international hockey following his country's defeat in Sunday's bronze medal game in Minsk.

The 42-year-old announced his decision to reporters after the game, explaining that he would continue for another season in the NHL but did not plan to return to the international scene.

Jagr will continue his distinguished career with the New Jersey Devils, where he has a further year to run on his contract.

The veteran's career includes two world championship wins, an Olympic gold medal from 1998 and a pair of Stanley Cup triumphs with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992. That makes him one of just 25 players to join the Triple Gold Club.

His career has also drawn tributes from the players he faced here in Minsk. Swedish forward Mikael Backlund, who scored in Sweden's 3-0 win over the Czechs in the bronze medal game, admitted that it was a thrill to play against Jagr.

"He was a big icon for the Czechs. Growing up, I was watching him and watching Pittsburgh and the Czech Republic," Backlund said. "He’s always been a great player and a great personality. He had a great career, and it was a lot of fun to play against him, both in the NHL and internationally.

"It was pretty cool to play against a guy you look up to when you’re younger. It's been an honour to play against guys like him and Selanne, who I watched when I was a little kid. It’s a pretty cool feeling."

Prior to Saturday's semi-final against Finland, Olli Jokinen said: "I'm not really looking forward to playing against Jagr to be honest, he's such a great player. He really loves the game, it's amazing that he's still playing at this level.

"He's seven years older than me and I know how much I have to do at my age just to lace up my skates everyday. I can't imagine how he keeps doing it."

Jagr featured in nine games for the Czechs in Minsk, scoring 2+2. He was also part of the roster that reached the Olympic quarter-finals in Sochi this year, the fifth games of his career.

The Kladno-born star also played in the Russian Super League and KHL for Avangard Omsk as well as returning to his native HC Kladno during the NHL lock-outs in 2004 and 2012.

ANDY POTTS

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