Puck Daddy - NHL

Quick, what's the name of the KHL championship? It's the Gagarin Cup, of course. And you call yourself a Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod fan ...

OK, if you didn't know that, you probably knew the only other notable thing about the first-year Russian league these days: That its foundational star Jaromir Jagr has been rumored for months to be ready to bolt back to the NHL, presumably to the Edmonton Oilers team that courted him last offseason.

At a time when bad economic news about the League has been floating over to North America, the KHL put out a press release today that used a Jagr interview with Czech paper Denik Sport to help end (or at least quiet, before this summer's poaching period) speculation that he's leaving the League.

Full release after the jump, but here's the money quote from Jags: "Will I voluntarily terminate my contract with Avangard and go to America? That definitely won't happen. Only if the two hockey clubs reach an agreement. But I won't do it by myself."

So you're saying there's a chance ...

From the KHL:

Jaromir Jagr: "I'm not going to terminate my contract with Omsk "

Avangard Omsk winger Jaromir Jagr gave the Czech paper Denik Sport his thoughts on the rumors that he was going to leave Avangard of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL) to join the NHL's Edmonton Oilers next season.

Despite the speculations during the last weeks of the KHL regular season and the Gagarin Cup playoffs that he was planning to return to the NHL, the player himself commits his future to Avangard, the team he is contracted with for another year - Denik Sport reports.

Nonetheless, the possibility of Jagr returning to the NHL wearing an Oilers jersey was actually real. The Oilers and Avangard had reportedly reached an agreement that if Avangard did not reach the Gagarin Cup playoffs or was swept in the first round by Salavat Yulaev, Jagr was cleared to report to Edmonton .

"Yes, such an opportunity really existed," Jagr told Denik Sport. "The teams had discussed how that could be fulfilled. But it did not depend on me. Should Omsk ask me to join Edmonton, I'd do that.  But that was not something I desired myself. After we made the playoffs, the whole thing ceased to be an issue".  

Jagr then confirmed that the same approach will be in effect next season.

"Will I voluntarily terminate my contract with Avangard and go to America? That definitely won't happen. Only if the two hockey clubs reach an agreement. But I won't do it by myself", said Jagr who spent 17 seasons in the NHL with Pittsburgh, Washington and the Rangers.

For more news and information, including updates about the KHL's Gagarin Cup, visit: www.khl.ru.

Two thoughts:

1. Despite the KHL's headline, the door remains clearly wide open for Jagr's return to the NHL at some point next season. We have no idea what the formal restrictions, or any potential violations of the Leagues' informal agreement, would be for a financial deal between an NHL team and Omsk. But Jagr's saying it could have happened this season, and it could happen next season; but the bottom line is ‘I'm not leaving, so come and get me.'

2. Congratulations to David Staples of Cult of Hockey for his scoop on the Jagr/Oilers story, which now appears to be fact in the face of fraudulent denial.

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