KHL president downplays Jagr rumours


Continental Hockey League president Alexander Medvedev on Wednesday vehemently denied speculation Jaromir Jagr might be joining the Edmonton Oilers.


Continental Hockey League president Alexander Medvedev on Wednesday vehemently denied speculation Jaromir Jagr might be joining the Edmonton Oilers.

“Mr. Jagr played today for Avangard,’’ said Medvedev, in New York to watch Wednesday night’s Washington Capitals-New York Rangers game, told “Legally, he has a contract. It would surprise me if it was really true that Edmonton tried to negotiate a deal with Mr. Jagr. I don’t like those rumours. But Edmonton publicly announced it wasn’t the case.”

Jagr is signed for “two years plus one (option),” the KHL president added. “And there is no out clause (in the contract).”

Medvedev also pointed out that ex-Ottawa Senators goaltender Ray Emery ended his week-long holdout and rejoined Mytishchi Atlant on Wednesday.

“He reported back today,” Medvedev said. “It would be good if Mr. Emery settled his grievance with the club. But it’s an internal matter of the club.”

The NHL’s refusal to commit to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, is an annoyance to Medvedev.

“I believe it would not only be anti-sport, but antihuman to prevent the best players from the NHL from going to the Olympics,” Medvedev said.

“There should be no place for the blackmail of the Olympic Games. I will not hide this frustration.”

Jackets’ minds on playoffs

The Columbus Blue Jackets find themselves in unfamiliar territory this season — playoff contention.

That means no dog days for the NHL_club this time around.

“It’s usually this time between Games 45 and 60 for me,” Jackets defenceman Mike Commodore told the Columbus Dispatch. “You lose that excitement from the start of the season, but you’re still not really that close to the stretch run. It can drag.”

But not this season, as the Jackets were in an eighth-place tie with the Minnesota Wild entering Thursday night action. The top eight teams in the Western Conference make the playoffs and only nine points separated fifth-place Dallas Stars from 15th-place St. Louis Blues.

“All you have to do is look at the standings and see why every game is so important,” Jackets forward Fredrik Modin told the paper. “You can’t afford to let up.”

“In our conference, we could go 7-3 or 8-3 and not create any separation, it’s so tight,” Commodore said.

“I’m so tired of the dogpile that I’m just focused on us now,” Jackets coach Ken Hitchcock told the paper. “I just think all 15 (conference) teams are going to be there until the bitter end.”

Chelios aims for 2010 Olympics

Detroit Red Wings defenceman Chris Chelios is hoping to play in his fifth Olympic Games at Vancouver 2010.

“I’m not counting anything out,” the 47-year-old Chelios told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. “Realistically right now, it’s no. But next year, things could change.”

But even if he’s not there in 2010 as a player, Chelios would relish a different position with Team USA.

“I’ve always said I’d like to be involved in some capacity,” Chelios said. “I’ve known (2010 Team USA general manager) Brian Burke for a long time, and we’ve had a brief conversation about that.”

Dallas Stars’ veteran Mike Modano would also relish another shot at Olympic glory.

“It matters how I feel the year leading up to it and, so far this year, I’ve felt pretty good,” said Modano. “If I come out and have a decent first half of the season next year and things go well, hopefully, you put a little thought into their head about possibly selecting you. That would be great.”

Lemaire laughs off mishap

Minnesota Wild coach Jacques Lemaire was in good spirits Wednesday, a day after forward Antti Miettinen ran into him at practice. X-rays on Lemaire’s left shoulder indicated no damage despite a nasty fall to the ice.

“They tried to get rid of me, but they can’t,” he joked to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Lemaire, 63, said he should resume shooting pucks within two or three days.

“I got half a wing,” Lemaire said. “But I wasn’t laughing (Tuesday) between 9:30 p.m. and 5 a.m.”

Lemaire said he was at fault for turning his back on a drill while standing along the boards.

“After, I don’t know, 2,000 practices you think that you’re OK and nothing’s going to happen,” Lemaire said. “A lot of times it comes close, but it doesn’t happen. But (Tuesday) it did happen. . . . Away I went.”

Fortunately, Lemaire, who was not wearing a helmet, did not hit his head.

“You see me with a helmet?” Lemaire asked. “The guys would have a ball.”

Gionta makes like power forward

New Jersey Devils right-winger Brian Gionta definitely took his ugly pills prior to Wednesday night’s game against the New York Islanders.

The five-foot-seven, 175-pounder first clobbered Islanders defenceman Jack Hillen into the boards. Later, a collision with Doug Weight resulted in the Islanders veteran centre suffering a knee injury.

“I saw (Weight) went off,” Gionta told the Newark Star Ledger. “We kind of collided. I didn’t know what he hit or tweaked.”

Gionta said “I finally got in a good hit” on Hillen.

Gionta wasn’t bragging about an accidental hit on linesman Pierre Champoux, though.

“I forgot about that,” Gionta said.

He said it:

“Jobs, especially mine. I would think pride. We’re all getting paid. We owe it to the Atlanta fans to play as good as we can.” — Head coach John Anderson on what’s on the line for the Atlanta Thrashers, who are all but eliminated from playoff contention

“We didn’t deserve to win, but Khabbi put on a show. He was spectacular and the reason why we won. We weren’t at our best, but Khabbi was.’’ —_Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville, following a 36-save performance by goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin in Wednesday night’s 3-1 victory over the Atlanta Thrashers

Ice chips:

New Jersey Devils Brendan Shanahan played in his 1,500th NHL game against the New York Islanders on Wednesday night, making him only the 12th player in league history to reach the mark. . . . Philadelphia Flyers centre Danny Briere, who underwent groin surgery on Jan. 22, is hoping to be back by Feb. 25.

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