Capitals fans may already know this, but Jaromir Jagr says hes not a big fan of playing in Washington.
I dont like that arena much, Jagr, 39, said Monday when asked how he feels about returning to the Verizon Center Tuesday night for the first time as a Philadelphia Flyer.
Ive not really had luck there. Its a tough place to play, even if I was in Pittsburgh and New York. It was always tough.
Its been nearly eight years since the Capitals traded Jagr and what remained of his seven-year, 77 million contract to the New York Rangers. In parts of three seasons with the Capitals he posted 83 goals and 201 points in 190 games, but could not get the Caps to win a single playoff series.
Since leaving D.C. in 2004, Jagr has made seven appearances at the Verizon Center as a member of the Rangers, recording two goals and six assists.
Its fair to say that Caps fans rolled their eyes when, after he spent three seasons in the KHL, Jagr signed a one-year, 3.3 million contract with the Flyers. But in 24 games, the veteran right wing has 10 goals and 14 assists, which would place him second on the Capitals in scoring with 24 points.
Hes one of the best players ever to play the game, said Caps defenseman Karl Alzner. It doesnt matter what age he is, he still brings something to the table. Hes good with his stick. He still has some of the pre-lockout rules in him. You can tell the way he clutches and grabs and he can get away with it.
Jagr has spent most of the season on a top line with center Claude Giroux and left wing Scott Hartnell and the trio has piled up 40 goals through 28 games. Giroux, who leads the NHL with 39 points, is expected to sit out Tuesday nights game after getting kneed in the head by teammate Wayne Simmonds Saturday night.
I think if it would be up to him, he would play tomorrow, Jagr said of Giroux. On the other side, the doctors have to make sure -- you dont want anything like what happened to (Sidney) Crosby.
You have to be very careful because hes got the talent. You dont look just for the next game. You look for the next 10 years. Thats probably the biggest difference. If he would be my age, nobody would really care.
With Giroux out of the lineup, 19-year-old rookie Sean Couturier centered Jagr and Hartnell at practice on Monday and is expected to fill in for Giroux Tuesday night.
Jagr was asked what he remembered about playing in the NHL as an 18-year-old rookie with the Penguins.
The first game I had a tough time, he said. My first game in the NHL was actually in Washington. Everybody was skating this way and I was skating (another way). I was a disaster.