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NEW YORK -- Jaromir Jagr's shoulder has kept him out of training camp scrimmages and preseason games, and now the Rangers are admitting they cannot say with any certainty that their top player will be available to play when the season opens two weeks from tonight.

Asked if he was sure Jagr, who underwent surgery to repair his dislocated left shoulder on May 11, would be ready to play when the Rangers open the season Oct. 5 against the Washington Capitals at Madison Square Garden, Tom Renney couldn't say yes.

"I wouldn't say 'sure,' but I can sure tell you I'd like him in it," the Rangers coach said yesterday before the Rangers' preseason game against the Devils at the Garden. "It's hard to say. He's feeling really good. But we'll defer to the medical people and take their advice."

When he reported to training camp a week ago, Jagr said the shoulder still was lacking some strength, but he said he hoped to play all the preseason games, and he was eagerly looking forward to testing the shoulder. But according to Renney, Jagr just needs more time to heal.
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