Translations by Tomas Jandik
Jagr Interview - Lidove Noviny - 24-May-01
Would you be willing to take a pay-cut and help the team in its difficult financial situation?
I did not think about it. I don't think that a contract change would solve anything. Also, I have to think about what solution is the best for me. I don't know the answer to that.
You won the scoring race, but now you were eliminated from the play-offs. Was the season good or bad?
From my point of view it definitely was not successful. Most of all it's the play-offs that decide about the ultimate success. In addition, I was not happy playing hockey like I was in the previous years. I hope that everything will change and when the fall comes, I'll be playing exactly how I was used to. That means, with joy.
For 11 years, the Pittsburgh media were writing odes about you, but recently, you weren't spared of their sharp criticism. Do you feel that the world is full of ingratitude?
My task is to score goals and I wasn't successful at that. A lot of people suddenly went after me, but I try to face it straight. In addition, I try to learn from it. Fortunately, I'm still young, so all this criticism and failure can be a motivation for years to come. I have been living trough new situations lately, and I'm gaining a lot of experience because of that. Until now my career resembled a straight line, but it was meant to happen that at some point I falter, I won't be perfect. At least I know now how some people treat you when that happens.
Mario Lemieux did not exactly shine on ice, either, and despite that American press was sparing him. Is it fair? Do you think that you pay for the fact that you are European?
I'd say definitely, Europeans have it more and more difficult in the NHL.
Coach Ivan Hlinka also did not speak on your behalf when you were criticized for not exactly following his instructions. Did you regret that?
Rarely people can empathize with the situation of somebody else. But I am not angry with anybody. What happened, happened. We can't save it now.
It's being said that coach Hlinka does not have team under total control. That especially the older players don't respect him much. How true that is?
To say the truth, I don't even know what exactly is happening in the backstage. In addition, I don't have a right to speak about it in public.
New York Post wrote that you take a helicopter to Atlantic City, where you play at tables with bets up to $0.5 mil. In addition, you have allegedly lost $20 million in stocks….
I haven't read this article. In this country everybody can write what he wants…[with anger]. Only I know what I do. But there have been so many things written about me that one article won't get to me. I have already got used to it. It's America.
You have had 11 beautiful years in Pittsburgh, but the goodbye is rather harsh…
It is not the first time when I feel pretty disappointed. Once again I say that the negative experience from this year is a motivation for me to work even harder.
So how will you remember your time in Pittsburgh?
To compare 11 great years and one unsuccessful month is not difficult at all. I have experienced many wonderful things in Pittsburgh. When I got here, I was 18 and I was lucky enough to be on the team with so many great players. It was them who taught me how to play hockey. I could play with Mario Lemieux who was my idol, Paul Coffey, Joe Mullen, Brian Trottier…. I saw them practice every day and I tried to do many things after them. Very few can be that lucky. All 11 years were beautiful, but now it's time to look into the new future.
Tomas Jandik is the resident Czech on LetsGoPens.com and is a man who unifies all the goodies of the American dream - meaning, of course, being a Pitt graduate, a Razorback, and a Penguins fan.
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