NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Jaromir Jagr has decided to remain with the New Jersey Devils for another year.
“I was happy being here,” the 42-year-old Jagr said Thursday in a conference call from Belarus, where he is playing for the Czech Republic in the world championships. “There was no reason to change. There was no reason to test free agency. What would happen? Someone might give me more money, but nobody can guarantee me that I’d be happy someplace else. If I’m happy, then there’s no reason to go anywhere else. I play my best hockey when I’m happy.”
The Devils did not release terms of the contract. Jagr said it was a one-year deal. The contract is believed to be worth $6 million with incentives.
“I like having one-year deals,” Jagr said. “If something goes wrong, you never know if you have a long contract and say have three years left. One year is good for everybody. I think both sides wanted to get this done quickly. Lou (Lamoriello, the team’s president and general manager) wanted to do it, because he wanted to see the direction where he’s going with the team.”
Jagr was the Devils’ leading scorer this season, finishing with 24 goals and 43 assists for 67 points.
“I’d truly like to score more goals,” Jagr said. “I feel like I can play with the guys we have. We have a better chance to play better. We have a good group of guys and that’s very important. I like to play a lot, because I don’t get tired.”
Jagr will turn 43 in February of next season, his 21st year in the NHL. A two-time winner of the Stanley Cup when he played for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jagr has 705 goals and 1,050 assists.
The Devils missed the playoffs for the third time in the last four seasons.
“We made a lot of mistakes early,” Jagr said. “But we were able to play good against the good teams. We lost a lot of points to teams that didn’t make the playoffs. It put us in a position where we had to win almost every game and that was too much pressure. We didn’t have any great superstars, but we had good goal scorers that give us a chance to compete against anybody and beat anybody. It’s just my feeling, but we didn’t have to be great to win games, if we work hard.”
He added: “If you follow the system, you don’t have to be great to be able to have success or hope that the team you play against will have to have a bad night in order to win. If we really work hard and follow the system we have a chance, and maybe it’s just my feeling, but that system gave me confidence that we can go out there and win the games.”
Jagr said that he liked the camaraderie in the Devils’ locker room.
“We have a lot of fun,” Jagr said. “We have a loose atmosphere. There’s not a bad guy in the room. Maybe we need a bad one to get in the playoffs.”
Jagr was named Thursday as one of the three finalists for the Bill Masterton Award, given to the player “who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey,” along with Manny Malholtra of the Carolina Hurricanes and Dominic Moore of the New York Rangers.
“It means a lot that the hockey writers picked me,” Jagr said. “Hockey writers can be very picky, so for them to pick me means a lot. I just love the sport and follow the laws of the sport.”
Jagr said he plans to keep playing after next season.
“There’s no reason to stop,” Jagr said. “I want to play for as long as I can. As long as I work hard, I am going to continue to play.”
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