WILMINGTON — Jaromir Jagr is a Bruin, but if he had it his way over the summer, he would be a Canadien.
The 41-year-old has been all smiles since being traded from Dallas to Boston this week, but the 12-time All-Star actually wanted to sign with Montreal in the offseason. The Habs were Jagr’s top choice after his one-year contract with the Flyers expired, but when the Canadiens didn’t reciprocate the interest, he took a one-year, $4.5 million contract with the Stars.
“I had never played in Canada, so I would like to try it,” Jagr said after Friday’s practice. “The [Canadiens] went in a different direction, so that’s OK. I feel like Canada lives more for hockey, so I wanted to try it at the end of my career, how it is to play in Canada.”
Jagr’s path has instead brought him to Boston, where he finds himself on the other side of the Bruins-Canadiens rivalry. He’ll get his first taste of it Saturday night in Montreal, where he figures to get a different reception than the ovation he got on his first shift Thursday. Canadiens fans, who are perhaps the most passionate in hockey, routinely boo other team’s star players, but Jagr said that at his age he shouldn’t even qualify for the type of treatment Zdeno Chara , among others, gets.
“Hey, I’m not a star anymore, so I don’t really care,” Jagr said with a laugh. “Zee is the best defenseman. He’s a star. It’s going to be a lot worse in Pittsburgh, trust me.”
The Bruins don’t play in Pittsburgh again this season, so the only way Jagr could revisit his old stomping grounds, which he eventually spurned when he signed with the Flyers upon returning to the NHL  in 2011, is in the playoffs. He ties in quite interestingly to a budding rivalry between two of the East’s top teams, as the failed acquisition of Jarome Iginla in Boston (Iginla wouldn’t waive his no-trade clause for Boston, forcing the Flames to trade him to Pittsburgh) led to the Bruins swinging a deal for Jagr.
“I was reading it like everybody else,” Jagr said of the Iginla-to-Boston fiasco. “I went on the Internet and I saw the first headline was Iginla going to Boston. I didn’t follow it after that. The next day, I find out it didn’t [happen]. Sometimes, that’s what happens. Hey, you cannot trust anybody in this business. You never know. I learned that.”
For now, Jagr doesn’t need to worry about the Penguins  — at least until April 19, when the B’s host Iginla’s squad at TD Garden. Even with experience on both sides of a great rivalry between the Penguins  and Flyers, Jagr says he doesn’t know what to expect on being a part of the Boston-Montreal rivalry. What he does know is that the Bruins can take over first place in the Northeast Division with a win over the Habs, as Montreal has 53 points to Boston’s 52 with one more game played.
Jagr noted the intensity of Thursday’s 1-0 win over the Devils, as the Devils are pushing for a spot in the playoff picture. If he thought that was impressive, he should be floored by what he sees Saturday in Montreal.
“Every game is going to be like a playoff game. We found that out yesterday. Every point is so important, and it’s even more important for the teams who are fighting for the playoffs, for the eighth or seventh spot,” he said. “For us, we want to be in first place. It’s going to be a huge game, and you want to get ready for the playoffs with games like that.”