Not to beat a dead horse, but I am a bit frustrated with what I have seen on my Twitter time line today and what I have read and heard since June. Jaromir Jagr has cited so many different reasons for not signing a contract with Pittsburgh I am beginning to lose count. At this point I can think nothing more than that he is talking out of his rear. He should have been able to give a clear and concise answer in each interview that matched perfectly the previous interview, but he has not done that. (Forgive me. I have a degree in Political Science. I am constantly looking for holes in people’s stories.)
I have no problem with the fact that Jagr didn’t sign with Pittsburgh. Per my earlier post today, I am grateful for it. I respect the hell out of Jagr for his talent and his career accomplishments, but I find him to be a completely reprehensible human and his attitude is bad for the Penguins locker room. I think that Ray Shero made a wise decision in pulling the plug on the offer when Jagr started waffling all over the place and blacked out of contact for a period of time, on top of starting to bring other teams into the mix of hard offers from the Pens, Detroit and Montreal.
He has contradicted himself many times over since the summer up to as recently as today. His statements and interviews are an inconsistent mess at best. I realize that the mainstream media and social media made WAY more of the whole Jagr fiasco than it had to be, but my issue here is since the whole ordeal the statements from Jagr have been erratic and simply unbelievable at times.
I apologize now that this is lengthy, but there are a lot of quotes and you will see how they come together at the end.
While playing in the KHL in and interview, Jagr stated regarding playing for the Penguins again: “I was thinking about it and if Mario would call me and say, ‘I’d like you to play for our team,’ I would think about it a lot. I would play for the minimum salary. I would play for $350,000 just for him because I owe him my hockey life. I want to pay him back because he has made me what I am…besides my parents.”
June 21st from ESPN:
On how long he will take to decide if he would sign with Pittsburgh or Detroit: “I don’t know. Sometimes it takes a few hours, sometimes it takes a week. I’m not sure how long it’s going to take.”
On why he could choose Pittsburgh: “In Pittsburgh, I played there 10 years. I still have a house there. I was too lazy to sell it. Obviously Mario (Lemieux) is the owner. The team they got, (Sidney) Crosby and (Evgeni) Malkin, plus other great players, if I went there it would be a lot easier.”
June 21st from Hockey News:
Penguins Head Coach Dan Bylsma on acquiring Jagr: “Hypothetically, you’re talking about a guy who in his last year in the National Hockey League had 75 points. That’s leading our team last year. That’s an intriguing thing to think about — a power-play guy, what you saw him do in the world championship against NHL-caliber players was nothing short of outstanding.”
June 28 from the PG:
Penguins General Manager Ray Shero: “We feel from the information we have and after seeing at world championships, that he’s a guy who might be able to help us this coming season. We feel he’s a guy who could help us this year, and retire as a Penguin.”
July 1st-Free Agency Day from Tribune Review:
Per Jagr’s agent, Petr Svboda: “It’s a tough decision for Jaromir. His heart is in Pittsburgh.” He also stated that the Pens were very much in the mix as far as signing with a team.
From Pens Beat Writer Rob Rossi: “In anticipation of a Jagr signing, the Penguins have constructed web pages with tributes to his career, complete with video montages and Jagr-related items.”
Ray Shero pulls offer from Puck Daddy: “We made our best offer from the start, given our salary cap structure, in an attempt to facilitate a deal. But now, after several days, with an extended time frame for making a decision, and additional teams getting involved, we have decided to move in a different direction. It was never our intention to get involved in a free agent bidding war, and we have to focus on our team.”
“For me it’s an advantage to have centermen like Briere and Giroux (who) have a right-handed shot,” Jagr said. “If I were playing in Pittsburgh, where it’s (Sidney) Crosby or (Evgeni) Malkin, (both) left-handed, I don’t think I would be able to play there. If go to Detroit, (Pavel) Datsyuk and (Henrik) Zetterberg are left-handed. I don’t think I would have a chance to play at all.””
August 30th from Broad Street Hockey:
“Reporters started writing about Pittsburgh being an option for me months ago. But even by the draft the Penguins hadn’t shown any interest in me. They noticed me only after when the reporters had started writing about me. Suddenly they realized that the fans in Pittsburgh wanted me to return. After that, it was all calculated. They gave me an offer they knew would be the worst or one of the worst I’d get. They knew about the offers from other teams. They knew that I would turn them down. But the result looks like I refused to go there and they tried to get me. So the fans thought I was an idiot and eventually a traitor.”
“If you want a player of certain quality, you can’t offer him third or fourth line money, can you? When you see players on the first line get about seven millions and second liners get five millions, I think my place would be somewhere in between. They offered me fourth line money. That’s it.”
December 29th from NHL:
“I felt the best chance I had to play, where I would feel more comfortable, was Philly,” Jagr said. “The obvious choice would be Pittsburgh, where my idol is the owner, and I played here before and there wouldn’t be that much pressure because people didn’t expect anything.”
But, Jagr explained, “I still wanted to play at a high level. And there were the choices I had, be comfortable and maybe sit and play 10 minutes a game. And I still want to play. I still love the game and I didn’t think I’m ready yet to just sit around. I still can help the team somehow.”
Jagr said no team guaranteed him ice time or a defined role, but he “read in-between the lines” when the Penguins suggested they first needed to see what forward Tyler Kennedy did in free agency. Kennedy subsequently re-signed with Pittsburgh.
“If someone tells you we’ve got to wait for Kennedy, nothing against him, and he was playing on the third line, if you wait for Kennedy before you try to sign me, where am I going to play?” Jagr said.
Wow. That’s a lot to take in.
Basically instead of just being as honest as he was on August 30th and saying “Hey, Philadelphia offered me more money,” he has cited everything from issues playing with left-handed centers to blaming the Pens wanting to ensure that they could sign Tyler Kennedy for longer than one season to him not believing he would play on the power play, despite Dan Bylsma stating prior to his offer being made that he would be instrumental to the power play.
$2 million for an aging winger to play for one season after he said he owed so much to Mario that he would play for league minimum isn’t a bad offer. I certainly couldn’t see him playing only 10 minutes of ice time. If you are performing, your ice time goes up. Look at Deryk Engelland. Despite the plethora of injuries to the Pens blue line, his improved game has earned him more minutes and helped him evade being a healthy scratch for 1/3 of a the season.
The evidence is there that he was out for money. That’s respectable enough. The NHL is a business and this is this man’s career. But instead of blaming Tyler Kennedy, saying the Pens did this for publicity or turning around and saying the Pens never even contacted him about signing, just stick with what is painfully obvious here: You wanted paid like a 1st liner. The Pens didn’t have the Cap space to pay him that way for 1 year, not when TK, Dupuis, Kunitz and others were looking for offers that were more long term. The Pens simply could not support paying him $5 million and even though he has had a phenomenal career, he is still a 39 year old player at the end of his playing days. $5 million is a gamble.
Look at it this way. The Pens signed Duper for $1.5 for 2 years. He has 11 goals and 14 assists and is faster than hell and a gritty and versatile player. He can kill penalties and his shot is dangerous. He plays on whatever line Bylsma needs him on, including the first line when he wings for Sid. And he is still only 32 years old. Jagr has 11 goals and 19 assists and wanted $2 million for 1 year. You tell me Shero wasn’t smart in retracting his offer. Dupuis is out performing Ovechkin this year. The Pens came out on the better end of this deal in my opinion.
Do what you wish tonight. Boo Jagr. Don’t boo Jagr. Just remember to cheer for the Pens like it’s the last game they’ll ever play because THEY deserve it!