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Translations by Tomas Jandik
Jagr on Wilson, his work habits, and the new season - MF Dnes - 13-Sep-02


In the last season, you have lost your NHL scoring crown after your four victories. Washington didnít make the play-offs. The National team lost in quarterfinals both during the Olympics and at the World Championship. Does it mean you are more motivated before the start of the new season?

Well, I think the extra motivation is there, but I lack more time. I underestimated my [off-season] preparation a little bit.

But you say that every yearÖ

My muscles ran away.

You donít look out of shape. Even the new Washington coach Cassidy admired your stature and muscles.

Well, but [those muscles] donít work. {laughter}. I havenít scored a goal in like half of a year. Until the end of August, I havenít been in a weight room. Itís important to visit that place sometimes.

You really did not do any weight-lifting?

I did. But mostly repetitions with lighter things, for example with medicineballs.

Do you really feel weaker?

Hmmm. Maybe I am better speed-wise, but I lack strength. But there is still time to add it. During the camp and also during the first months of the season. The games usually arenít that tough yet. Iíll manage to get some more practice.

The club tries to adjust the roster to your needs. Two players you used to work well with Ė Robert Lang and Kip Miller Ė came during the summer. Who would you like to have as your linesmates?

There are many possibilities. Last year, close to the end of the season, I played quite well with Zubrus and Simon. It will get taken care of. We have a quality roster.

Better than the last year?

The important thing is for us to really work as a team. Last year, it did not work that way. It got better only near the end of the season. Oates left and everything became somewhat freer. We were winning a lot of games.

So how strong can Washington be during the new season?

We had a lot of injuries - Calle Johansson, Steve Konowalchuk, Jeff Halpern. I did not play 15 games as well. If we stay healthyÖ

How well will the summer Thai-box training work for you? How many practice fights were you in?

Four. But do you know how many times you tend to be hit? For example, I got my head smashed three times during five seconds. You are asking for a concussion. Itís not fun to stand against the European Champion. You have to have quick legs and a long hand.

You were quite satisfied with your strong abdominal muscles. You were even boasting that you will be protecting [Robert] Lang on the ice. Are you able to fight on the ice?

[The kick-box training] will definitely improve my shooting. [But] those fights in hockey are completely different. They clinch into each other; nobody can back off or move.

I know, but will you be able to hit somebody after such a preparation?

Definitely. But I have a ďmental brakeĒ preventing me from hitting. The goons donít have it; normal people lose it only after they are hit first.

So how will you react if somebody in the NHL hits you?

I donít know. Itís clear that your confidence rises if you know that you are able to defend yourself; you tend to brag a little. I just hope I wonít be Ďde-braggedí quicklyÖ {smile}

Have you ever fought without your gloves?

Sure. During my first years. All rookies go through this. When they were chasing me and beating me up, I couldnít do anything else. I couldnít run away all the time Ė I would have gone tired quickly.

Were you winning?

Every fight! [laughter] I put everybody into my trade-mark lock, we fell on the ice, and the referees could do nothing else but to come and separate us.


The fans expected a lot of success from Capitals the last year. What they got was a fiasco, but that cannot be repeated this year, can it?

I think that we will make the playoffs this year. But it will depend on me. If Iíll play poorly, we wonít make it. Thatís natural. Why else would I be the best paid player?

What can the new coach bring?

He will definitely be nervous, after all Ė he is young. He is 37 and so far he coached only in the minors. You tend to recognize the true players and coaches, only when you are in a slump. Weíll see.

You used to say that during Coach Wilsonís times, there was Communism in Washington. All were equal. Now that could change, donít you think?

We all start from the scratch. The key is [for the new system] to suit all the players. I can always manage to get what I need. Wilson used to behave quite unpleasantly, he was critical. Sometimes without a reason. Some did not like it and Iím not surprised.

Was he unfair?

He used to have some types of players that he yelled at when the team did not play well.

Sort of like some punching bagsÖ

Exactly. And they might have been even playing the best off all.

And what about you? After all, you used to have disputes with the coaches.

I am not as stupid as I used to be anymore. What I used to accept from Wilson Ė I would have never thought I was capable of [withstanding]. But I was OK with it, I took it easy.

What exactly was Wilson critical of in your case?

He treated me as if I just came from the minors. {smile}

Did you have any conflicts? Nothing seemed to get out to the public.

But I also did not do anything. Usually, I stayed completely quiet. And when it reached the limits I was not willing to accept, I simply got up and left his office.

What didnít he like?

During the fall, I wanted to come back after my injury. Voluntarily, just to help the team. Without any training, my leg still down in the toilet. We lost to Ottawa 11:5. I was on the ice during five of their goals, but by accident. I did not do any blunders.

Simply you were minus 5 in the match.

Yes. And they called me up the day after. Wilson wouldnít dare to do it just by himself, so he had his assistants behind him. And they started. How dare I? How do I play? How is it possible that I talk to the others about how to play?

He minded that?

Allegedly, they were there to organize. My responsibility was just to play. And mind my own business. So I got up and left.

How did you come to the decision not to make waves?

I wouldnít help myself even if I did. Why bother? My dad said: Take it easy. Besides, there were other personalities. Oates, for example. Well, and see, I am still in Washington, while Wilson is gone. {laughter}

He had been coaching Washington for five years. Did you contribute to his firing?

Not at all! And one other thing. I heard that players did not want him even before [I came], they voted him out. But the GM gave him one more chance. Wilson wasnít bad, but he did not have enough confidence, so he used to attack first, before the other person even spoke up.

Thatís true. When I talked to Wilson the last year, I asked him, without any hidden agenda, about how it is to have Jagr on his team. And immediately, he jumped: What are you looking for between me and Jagr? I was quite surprised.

See, thatís exactly [what I am talking about].


You are a thirty-something. Do you feel that way?

Oh, yes!

Canít you get up out of bed? Arenít you able to stand after a practice?

I donít think itís that bad. But if I stay up late, it takes me quite some time to deal with that.

Do your joints, bones hurt?

(Knocking on wood) Not at all. But maybe now that I lost weight, got lighter, I donít tend to skate that well. But I donít have any problems [like you mentioned].

Do you really feel those few missing kilograms that much?

Terribly! I have an 8-kilo vest and home, and now I canít even walk up stairs with it! Thatís quite a difference. And it gets even bigger on ice!

How else are you influenced by the big 30? People age getting closer to the ďmidlife crisisĒ at that age. They are contemplating about what to do.

I donít contemplate! {laughter}. I want to play until I am 40, so I know what will be in the future. I am in the middle of my career.

You still havenít abandoned the idea about having a professional career until the age of 40?

You know, I believe I could play even longer. I would just have to pacify myself somehow. Iíd have to start going to bed as a normal person. Maybe if I have a family, it could save me.

And why do you stay up so late?

I have a sleep during the afternoon after my practice, because I wouldnít be able to survive. And then I donít want to go to bed in the evening. I tend to fall asleep at 2 or 3 AM.

During the season, after evening matches, you apparently canít be in bed by 10, though, can you?

Even when we play at home, and I donít go anywhere after the game, I still get home at midnight, at best. And then I have to eat something, have a short exercise to regain the strength lost during the matchÖ And suddenly itís 2AM. I seriously donít know if I can change. Hardly.

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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