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NHL legend 'unretires' at 50 to play after team he owns is stricken with illness

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Photo by B Winkler/Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images, Jaromir Jagr via Meta

NHL and international hockey legend Jaromir Jagr came out of retirement to play just one game after his team was largely out of commission due to an unnamed illness.

Jagr, who played in the NHL from 1988 to 2018, has since played in the Czech Republic's top league for the Kladno Knights, a team he is the majority owner of.

The team was down to just 12 players due to a recent illness and, after postponing the previous game, was in danger of facing league disciplinary actions should another game be postponed.

Jagr, who is seemingly retired, not having played in any of the team's first 26 games, decided to suit up to avoid any penalties.

Amazingly enough, the Czech performed quite well considering his age, tallying two assists in just 15 minutes of ice time, according to Yahoo Sports.

“My arrival was not planned in advance,” Jagr said. “When Liberec decided to not postpone the match, we only had 12 players at training on Saturday. There was a threat of suspension and I didn’t want it to happen," the owner explained.

Despite his team losing 7-3 to club HC Bílí Tygři Liberec, Jagr's sacrifice was even more selfless than it initially appeared. Not only did taking the ice prevent his team from facing penalties, but his participation will delay his eligibility to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame until at least 2026.

The 6'3" forward is all but assured to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, as he is the top-producing European player ever to play in the NHL. Jagr is fourth all-time in goals scored, fifth in assists, and second in points, behind only "The Great One," Wayne Gretzky. In three separate stretches in the NHL, Jagr played for nine different teams and participated in eight All-Star games

In March 2022, Jagr moved his team's final game of the season to a larger arena to help raise money for Ukrainian refugees who were fleeing to the Czech Republic. The game was moved to O2 Arena in Prague with a capacity of 18,000, while the original Rocknet Arena holds just 5,250.

A Sports Illustrated article from 1992 explains Jagr's deep understanding of European politics and history when it comes to Russia. His grandfather refused to work for communists when Czechoslovakia was taken over in 1948 and was put in jail for two years. Jagr, learning his history from his grandmother, "admired" Ronald Reagan and kept an American flag "in his bedroom and two decals of Old Glory on the windshield of his car."

The skater's #68 is in reference to the Prague Spring of 1968, both the year of his grandfather's passing and the time of uprising against communist authorities in Czechoslovakia.

The two-time Stanley Cup champion has played in at least one game per season since joining Kladno, purchasing shares in the team just days after his contract with the NHL's Calgary Flames ended in 2018, per CBS Sports.

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