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05-05-2007, 02:57 AM
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I was fortunate to see Jagr play for Avangard in Omsk, Russia (My adopted hometown) during the lockout year. Ak-Bars Kazan, one of the richest clubs in the Superleague, added Kovalev, Richards, lecavalier, and Kasparaitis. The owner of Avangard added Jagr midway through the season in order to counter these big signings.

Jagr played on an Avangard team that had just won the league the year before, and appeared in the Euro Cup, winning the MVP of that tourney, which has all of the European league champions from the previous year pitted against one another.

Avangard limps into the playoffs as a 7 seed, to face the 2 seed, the mighty Mettalurg Magnitogorsk in the first round. "Magnitka" had stormed through the league on the strength of a rookie named Evgeni Malkin and the superb goaltending of Evgeni Nabokov of the Sharks.

For the second year in a row (Omsk beat Magnitka in the finals a year previous), Avangard beats Mettalurg in an upset.

In the next round Jagr and Avangard face the juggernaut that is Moscow Dynamo, featuring league scoring leader Pavel Rosa, Andrei Markov, and some prospect named Ovechkin. Avangard just got crushed and swept in that series, one game was 11-1 for Dynamo. Dynamo winds up winning the championship without losing even a single game.

Jagr was dominant in the league that year, he stickhandled more than he does in the NHL by people as opposed to protecting the puck with his body in the corners like he does now. There is minimal hitting in the league, so Jagr took full advantage and dipsy doodled by guys all the time.

He was later quoted as saying that having that experience in Omsk revitalized him- he had a great relationship with Valery Belousov, Head trainer (coach) for Avangard.

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