Jaromir Jagr has made a surprise return to the NHL after three years in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League, and where he landed is even more surprising - with the Philadelphia Flyers.
After three years, Jagr returns
The future hall-of-fame forward Jaromir Jagr sprung two surprises on the first day of free-agent activity, returning to the NHL after three seasons in Russia and signing with the Philadelphia Flyers instead of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Jagr, 39, a former league MVP for the Penguins, signed with the arch-rival Flyers for US$3 million (Dh11m), turning down Pittsburgh's $2m offer.
Jagr was a Pittsburgh draft pick in 1990 and helped lead the Penguins to two Stanley Cup championships. The franchise's hope was that he would accept their offer, play at least one season in Pittsburgh, and then retire with the team he started with.
"We made what we thought was a very fair contract offer to Jaromir … based on his stated interest of returning to the Penguins," said Ray Shero, the Pittsburgh general manager.
The Flyers will look for Jagr to provide some scoring punch as Philadelphia last week traded away the productive forwards Jeff Carter and Mike Richards.
Jagr has 646 career NHL goals, and when he slips on that orange-and-black Flyers uniform, he will be the NHL's active scoring leader with 1,599 points.
"Jaromir is one of the greatest players in Penguins history," Shero said, "and we wish him all the best."
Jagr last season scored 19 goals and had 31 assists in 50 games for Avangard Omsk of Russia's Kontinental Hockey League.
A Czech native, Jagr won an Olympic gold medal in 1998 and a bronze in 2006.
He also won two Ice Hockey World Championships in 2005 and 2010.
Jagr will be joined in Philadelphia by another former Penguin, forward Max Talbot, who anticipates an unfriendly welcome when they play in Pittsburgh.
"It's going to be tough on us," Talbot said.
"I never thought I'd play for another team in my life."