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With contract, Jagr's options are open

NEW YORK -- It appears Jaromir Jagr has already made
plans for a lockout.

The All-Star right wing of the New York Rangers told the New
York Daily News that he has a conditional contract in place that
will enable him to play in Russia next fall should the opening
of the 2004-05 NHL season be delayed by a lockout.

"There's a big chance I might be going to Moscow," Jagr said,
naming Dynamo Moscow and the famed CSKA club as his likely
teams.

Asked if he had a deal in place, Jagr said: "Yeah. It might be
the best league in the world besides the NHL."

The NHL's collective bargaining agreement expires in September
and many believe a lockout for the 2004-05 season is looming.
Jagr's decision to play in Russia may become a growing trend
among players, who have the option of playing for numerous
European leagues.

Jagr had 15 goals and 14 assists in 31 games with the Rangers
after being acquired Jan. 23 from the Washington Capitals.
But his addition did not prevent the Rangers from missing the
playoffs for the seventh straight year. Overall, he had 31
goals and 43 assists in 77 games.

Jagr was bothered by a strained hip flexor in the final month of
the season, but is expected to return to his native Czech
Republic for the World Cup next fall.

Jagr, 32, has four years remaining on a seven-year, $77 million
contract.

A five-time NHL scoring champion, Jagr has 537 goals and 772
assists in 1,027 games. He had 62 goals and 87 assists for a
career-best 149 points in 1995-96 with the Pittsburgh Penguins
and added seasons of 127, 121 and 102 points.