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Translations by Tomas Jandik
Jagr: I show off to hide my feelings (MF Dnes interview) - 14-Oct-03
http://hokej.idnes.cz/nhl.asp?r=nhl&c=A031012_221024_nhl_rou

Jagr: I show off to hide my feelings

“When in public, I tend to show off sometimes,” he claims. “I do it in order to conceal my true feelings. I don’t feel well; I have to focus completely on hockey. There is nothing else I can do.”

Apparently, you decided to stay completely by yourself in America this season.

It looks that way.

Your mom has been taking care of you for years. Did you agree on that?

It will be better that way for me. I’ll be busier. I won’t have time to think about stupidities. When you have to do everything by yourself, you won’t have much of extra free time.

Do you want to become independent?

I wanted to do that even when I was with Andrea. But it would have been difficult for us; she had her school, work… But now that I decided that way, I’ll go with it.

You mentioned ‘thinking about stupidities’. Do you mean the breakup of your relationship with Andrea Veresova? http://revue.idnes.cz/foto.asp?c=A030825_111756_lidicky_lf&r=lidicky
Are you bothered by that a lot?

When I play hockey, everything is OK. The main point right now is for me to play well.

How do you cope with the breakup?

Obviously I don’t feel great. I won’t show off in front of you. I am a sensitive guy, and I take those things the hard way.

In your recent interview for [another Czech daily] Lidove Noviny you sounded really pessimistic. Now you look differently…

You know how it goes… Everybody must have experienced that. For me it was tougher [lately], because I was here all by myself. [Plus], I can’t go into my shell, to hide somewhere. When I am not the best at the practice, everybody starts wondering what’s going on. But take comedians, for example –it’s even harder for them; they have to entertain people when in this state of mind…

Brazilian soccer player [Mario] Jardel { http://www.4thegame.com/playerprofile?personid=4024 } fell into depressions after his divorce, stopped scoring goals, gained weight…

So it’s exactly the opposite in my case! I actually lost 12 kilos! {laughter}

…doesn’t a similar crisis threaten you as well?

You are standing on an edge. Either you save yourself and become stronger [thanks to this experience] or you will lose to it and then you are in troubles.

Are you still losing weight?

I started eating at McD’s and I am a OK! {laughter}

Do you really eat at McDonald’s?

Seriously, and I am gaining my weight back!

Don’t you skate easier when you weigh less?

I don’t know, I don’t feel that way…

But you should be slicker with a lower weight, shouldn’t you?

Well, that I’m definitely not! When I lost 4 kilos, like they [the management] wanted, I felt great. But then it went down way too fast. I was losing my strength. Now it goes back up, I pushed it thanks to McDonald’s. At least I have some energy now…

What are your current plans? You had claimed you never wanted to have an American at home. But now that you are here all by yourself, aren’t you going to change your mind?

It depends on what “to have” means. But I am not going to deal with that right now. I have only the following 6 months in front of myself. [Still better] compared to the old time warriors who had to serve in the army for 14 years.

Are you going to stay single, or will you look for a new partner?

I absolutely don’t feel like doing that. Until you forget, you constantly tend to compare. And that’s not possible. It takes longer [to cope with this] for some. Look at Fedorov, he was crushed by it for two years.

You mean the end of his marriage to Kournikova?

Exactly.

Do you ever call Andrea Veresova?

Sometimes we talk, sometimes we write to each other. I still like her, but let her do what she wants. She has her life. She felt I wasn’t giving her what she needed, so now she’s looking for somebody better. So let’s wish her good luck…

When you will be all alone, what will you do in your free time? Won’t you be drawn back to the Internet betting?

Nooo, not at all. I have never done that. I don’t even know how it works…

But American media wrote something else…

I was betting 8 years ago. Over the phone. Never in my life using the Internet.

Won’t you start studying?

I want to focus on hockey. I won’t have anybody here with me. Nothing will be distracting me, I just need to clear my head, to be OK mentally. Then I’ll be able to get back to the top again.

Some people write that Jagr is overpaid, that he is no longer the player he used to be. Are you extra motivated to disprove all that?

When I wasn’t making all this money, I could have claimed that I was underappreciated. Don’t you forget that I have won 5 consecutive scoring titles. I won the Hart Trophy. Ten players in the NHL make $10 million now. {somewhat upset} I am sorry, but I don’t think I am so overpaid.

What has to happen for you to be the best again?

I don’t think I can win the scoring title with this team. That’s simply impossible. I tend to play 16, 17 minutes – it used to be 25 in Pittsburgh. I am only on the second power play line, I don’t get that many chances.

This is your 3rd season with Washington, and you have been complaining about those things for quite a long time.

I don’t think it will change. Maybe it will get even worse…

Have you tried to let your voice to be heard?

They have the opinions of their own. This is a team, the individuals don’t matter.

But isn’t it irrational to have such an expensive player and to give him such a limited space.

That’s their decision. I’m glad I’m making that kind of money. I won’t argue with them.

Seriously not?

Not at all! Maybe such an attitude will be even beneficial for me. I am not getting upset at all.

Are you really only on the second power play unit?

The coach changes that… But we play 4 lines, I wait for 4 minutes for my turn. Then our center loses the face-off, the opponent shoots on the goal, the goalie catches that, and I go to sit again. And I wait for four more minutes… [If it happened] before, I would have broken my stick and punched that coach. These days I go to sit down and tell myself: Well, it was probably meant to be this way…

New York Rangers have been showing an interest in you for quite some time. Then all that excitement went away. Do you think it can come back again?

In my opinion, both the GM and the coach in Washington have knives on their necks. They are both in their last contract years. The GM can’t choose saving [money] over advancing to the play-offs. He knows that with me and [Lang] the chances to make it are better. He’ll risk it. If it works, some people in the club can save their jobs.

Don’t you feel you are wasting your best years in Washington?

What can I do? I signed a contract, and that will stay in effect for five more years. Then I’ll pack my stuff and I’ll go home. Nobody will see me here again.

[But] you have claimed this winter that you plan to play in the NHL until you turn 40.

I guess I have changed my mind. I may play until 40, but not in America.

Why don’t you actually play this year alongside Lang? After all, they brought him here as your center, didn’t they?

That’s something I still can’t comprehend. Not a single game, not a single practice we played together. I don’t know what the reason is, but even during the power plays we substitute one another. Maybe so that we don’t meet on the ice… I haven’t figured that out. During the power plays he is to substitute just me. For me it’s tough, because he is an excellent player. If I were to be replaced by some kind of “Dopey”, I would simply stay on the ice for the two minutes. But I can’t do it to him. I have to let him play after a minute. He ain’t no “Dopey”.






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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