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04-07-2012, 09:54 AM
Join Date: Dec 2008
Originally Posted by
Reality is Jagr played in the Czechoslovakian Extraleague since he was 16. At 17 years old playing on the line with Holik and Reichel he scored 18 points in 7 games at the world juniors and then they won the bronze medal at the World Championship with national team. I remember discussion which line would be better for years: Jagr-Holik-Reichel or Mogilny-Fedorov-Bure. Russians and Czechs had the rivalry going on for years. Nobody had any doubts that Jagr is a generational talent and he wasn't picked in the top-4 for the only reason - no one was sure he would ever come to the NHL.
Mogilny had to escape from Russia in 1989. He was declared a traitor in the USSR.
In 1990, the year of the Jagr draft, Fedorov escaped from the Soviets national team in Seattle and Russians started criminal desertion case. Fedorov and Mogilny weren't able to visit Russia for 5 years cause of criminal charges pressed against them.
Bure was selected 113th a year earlier for the same reason.
Nolan, Nedved, Keith Primeau and Ricci were safe picks. Nedved even played for the team Canada at the World Cup, but no one had any doubts that Jagr is way more talented.
Nedved playing for Team Canada was in the 1993-94 Canadian National Team cycle, including the 1994 Olympics. The IIHF and IOC still had the rule in place about only representing one country in your career, but there's a stipulation that if that country ceases to exist, then you can play for whomever you have citizenship for and who wants you to play for them.
Czechoslovakia ceased to exist on January 1, 1993, freeing all of the players who had previously played for them to represent whoever they wanted. Peter Stastny went to Slovakia, Petr Nedved went to Canada (he'd acquired citizenship along the way), and anyone who'd previously played for the USSR (or the Unified Team in 1992) was then free. And in the years since, other players have either declined invitations for their native country to play for another, or have played for another after not being good enough to have ever played for their native country. I know that Gates Orlando (Canadian native) has played for Italy for many years, Frank Kovacs (Canadian native) has played for Hungary, and there have been a few to represent countries like Austria who are North American natives.
I also remember reading where Petr Nedved was asked in his pre-draft interviews (by Vancouver, no less) who he would take if he had the 2nd overall pick. He immediately said "Jagr". They drafted Nedved.
EDIT: Found an old Allegheny Times article on the pick. It says that Jagr had to do the following before ever considering coming over:
1) Finish high school, which wouldn't be until October or November 1990
2) Either having a compulsory military commitment, or getting a waiver on such
3) Play for Czechoslovakia in the 1991 World Junior Championships
4) Do something about his contract with Kladno
There's also a reference to Bobby Clarke talking about Jagr being the best player in the draft; he was fired before the draft, and Philly drafted Mike Ricci.
Also, it says that Craig Patrick arranged for Jagr to have intensive lessons in English. As his future would indicate, that's a big failure on his part.
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