Commentary

Jagr wants to return to hockey; future fuzzier for Shanahan

Updated: May 4, 2008, 9:16 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

PITTSBURGH -- No one expects a hockey player to make a life decision five minutes after his team has been jettisoned from the playoffs. So there were no heartfelt declarations from either Jaromir Jagr or Brendan Shanahan on whether we have seen the last of the classy players in NHL action.

Still, Jagr, the Rangers' best player for the past two months, including these playoffs, said he doesn't feel like packing it in.

"I don't think this will be my last year," Jagr said. "I feel I'll be somewhere. I feel I can still play a few more years. It just depends where. This is all about work ethic. For all the kids out there, you can have talent, but it's about work. I'm going to take my time."

The persistent rumor has Jagr, 36, returning to Russia, where he played during the lockout. He has also indicated he'd like to play in the Czech Republic before he retires from the game for good. If he stays in the NHL, it's less likely he'll stay in New York. Jagr will be an unrestricted free agent in July.

"The year before, I knew what was going to happen," Jagr said. "This year, whatever happens, I know I'm going to go where I'm going to be happy. I'm going to talk to my parents. They are a big part of my hockey life.

"I'm just upset that we lost. They had a good hockey club with young legs. I thought they would get tired after a while. They didn't."

Netminder Henrik Lundqvist said he will be happy for Jagr whatever he decides, but happier if his decision is to return to the Rangers. "He showed everyone that when he is on the top of his game, he's one of the best players out there," Lundqvist said.

If Jagr's level of play suggests he can play pretty much anywhere he wants, the same can't be said for Shanahan, who appears to be at the end of his Hall of Fame career. Still, the 39-year-old forward wasn't in the mood to discuss his future plans Sunday.

"I'm not thinking about that. I'm thinking about hockey," he said.

If there is a disappointing element to this Rangers playoff loss beyond the fact it may represent the last games for Shanahan and Jagr, it's that they appeared to have plugged the major hole in their lineup from a year ago yet failed to advance beyond the second round.

By adding free-agent centers Chris Drury and Scott Gomez, the Rangers looked to have all the ingredients for a Stanley Cup run. Yet Drury, playing with a rib injury that limited his productivity, had one goal and two assists in the series, including a helper on the Rangers' first goal Sunday. Gomez had four points in five games, including an assist in Game 5.

"Any time you don't win the Stanley Cup, it's a disappointing year," Gomez said. "That's the way it should be. But the future looks bright. We've got a lot of good young guys."

Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.

ALSO SEE