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Josh Yohe at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that with JagrWatch (or 'JagrGate,' maybe?) out of the way, the Penguins can turn their attention to signing Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal to long-term deals. That, though, can come later; in the meantime, the Penguins won't be particularly active. They will already get a big boost simply from getting Crosby and Evgeni Malkin back and healthy, and are already a very good team with the personnel they currently have. The recent news that Crosby is ready to come back and is preparing for the upcoming season the way he does every year was much more important to the Penguins than Jaromir Jagr or any other free agent possibly could be.
There might still be a move or two, but in the meantime, it appears the Penguins' offseason has mostly already ended. It began spectacularly, with JagrGate, but it's ending quietly, with Jagr signing with the rival Flyers and little left to show for the offseason except Steve Sullivan. In the end, that's fine – the Penguins already have much of what they need to thrive.
“I didn’t promise anybody anything,” Jagr said in a conference call Saturday. “If the Penguins feel like I did something wrong, you know, I didn’t feel like I did anything wrong. If they feel like that, I can’t change their minds.”
Jagr sounds philosophical and stoic about his decision. I suppose he didn’t do anything wrong; but it sounds, to this outsider, like a major error in judgment that hurt a lot of people. Also, it stings for Pens fans when Jagr’s agent tells the press that “his heart is in Pittsburgh,” only to dump the Pens when their divisional rival offers a little more money. (And yes, Jagr denies that this signing was about the money, but come on.)
Oh well. Life goes on, and we’ll see Jagr in December.
The New York Times attempts to put Jaromir Jagr's unexpected decision to sign with the Penguins' rivals in Philadelphia into perspective, comparing it with Brett Favre playing for the Vikings or Roger Clemens for the Yankees:
The signing of Jagr and Talbot by Philadelphia is comparable in shock value, and perhaps as an act of betrayal in the eyes of fans, to Brett Favre’s signing with the Minnesota Vikings after spending most of his career with the Green Bay Packers, and with the Red Sox icons Roger Clemens and Johnny Damon becoming Yankees.
No reason to bring Max Talbot into this, honestly - a lot of Pens fans would have preferred to keep him around, but a lot were satisfied that the Flyers overpaid, and I'm not sure very many people wish Talbot ill.
Jagr, though? That's a different story. The hype surrounding his potential return to Pittsburgh was enormous, and there doesn't appear to be any clear reason why he didn't re-sign for the team for which he made his name, other than the $1.3 million difference in salary the two teams offered. The only thing that keeps this signing from being on a level with Favre or Clemens is the fact that it's only likely to last a year.
Dejan Kovacevic argues that Jaromir Jagr's decision to ditch the Pittsburgh Penguins in order to sign with the Philadelphia Flyers wasn't about sticking it to the Pens and their fans, as much as it might have looked that way. Instead, it was pure greed.
So you know this much for sure: Jagr's decision had nothing to do with winning, a coach's system, a comfort level and certainly not legacy. The Flyers simply swooped in Thursday and tossed more cash on the table.
This wasn't about greener pastures. It was about going for the green.
Kovacevic has all kinds of inside information that I'm sure points in this direction, but you don't even need to be an insider to figure this out. What else could possibly be motivating Jagr? He's done serious damage to his reputation here - overnight, he became a hated figure in Pittsburgh, and the drama that surrounded his signing became national news. He turned down a chance to play for an owner he says he respects, with the best player in the world as his teammate, for a fanbase that would have loved him, in a town where he has a house.
So what does that leave? Money. Which is bizarre, because if Jagr has any sense at all, he has a lot of money stashed away. As Kovacevic points out, the $1.3 million difference between what the Flyers and Penguins offered should have been a drop in the bucket for him. But that's what he went with. Bizarre.
The Penguins have signed forward Steve Sullivan to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million, the team’s official website reports. Sullivan, who turns 37 next week, has been limited by injuries in three of his last four seasons, all with the Predators, but he was healthy and effective in 2009-2010, with 17 goals and 34 assists in 82 games. He’s a small winger who adds a bit of scoring skill. He’s a nice offensive addition to the Penguins, if he can stay healthy, but fans who wanted Jaromir Jagr to sign probably won’t find a huge amount of consolation in this move.
Also, former Penguins forward Mike Rupp has signed a three-year, $4.5 million deal with the Rangers. Rupp had nine goals and eight assists for the Penguins last season. He was a big guy who could fight, but the Penguins probably didn’t want to pay as much or as long as the Rangers did.
For more on the Penguins’ moves this week, check out PensBurgh.
Just after Jaromir Jagr spurned the Pittsburgh Penguins to sign with the Philadelphia Flyers, Maxime Talbot left the Penguins behind and signed with the Flyers as well, in this case for five years and $9 million. The Penguins weren’t expected to sign him, so it’s not a surprise that he’s headed elsewhere, only that he’s headed to Philadelphia. Also surprising is the amount of money the Flyers will pay him.
"Yeah I guess it is," Talbot said on TSN. "But I think it was the right thing for me to do. Meaning it was the best team, in my opinion, that I coud go to" …
"It was not only about the money, it was about trying to find the right fit for me," Talbot said.
In any case, the Flyers-Penguins rivalry should be intense this year. That’s mostly due to Jagr, but the Flyers’ addition of Talbot only adds to that.
Talbot played parts of six seasons with the Penguins. He had eight goals and 13 assists last year while playing in 82 games.
During JagrWatch Wednesday, Penguins fans overreacted rather absurdly to Jaromir Jagr’s possible return to the Pens, spouting every possible rumor about the aging forward’s whereabouts. Overreaction or not, though, Jagr’s return would have made a lot of sense for all concerned – the Penguins and their fans would have gotten to celebrate an important player from the franchise’s history, and Jagr would have gotten to bask in the glory of a fanbase that was, frankly, way too into him, while also capping his career with a storybook ending.
It wasn’t to be, as the news broke on Friday that Jagr was actually signing with the Pens’ divisional rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers. After all the energy they’d put into JagrWatch, this qualifies as a huge snub, and it’s going to be deafening when Jagr enters Consol Energy Center later this year with Flyers gear on.
Here’s a sampling of Penguins’ fans Twitter responses to the news.
Now I know how George Washington and the Continental Army felt. #BenedictArnold #Jagr #jagrwatch #LetsGoPens
If Jagr thought he was boo’d stepping on the ice in a #Caps or #NYR sweater, he better bring earplugs for this season.
Jagr just trolled Pittsburgh pretty hard.
Jagr just out LeBron-James LeBron James
#jagrwatch had turned into #jagrwatchout
These are all from the last 10 minutes. Enjoy Philadelphia, Jaromir.
This bit of news will surely get buried beneath the revelation that, after a courtship with his old team, Jaromir Jagr has signed with the Philadelphia Flyers. But the Penguins did bolster their group of forwards Friday by re-signing Tyler Kennedy, apparently to a two-year, $4 million deal.
That’s a very reasonable rate for a player who’s young and fairly effective, so with Jagr now unavailable, it looks like the Penguins will have a bit of money to look for forwards in free agency.
Kennedy, who turns 25 on July 15, had 21 goals and 24 assists for the Penguins in 2010-2011. As Dan Hopper points out, many of those points came as the result of the absences of Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, and Kennedy is unlikely to repeat those numbers if those players are healthy. Still, if anything two years and $2 million is a bit less than I would have expected Kennedy to get. He’s a nice player to continue to have around.
The Philadelphia Flyers’ official Twitter is reporting that they’ve signed Jaromir Jagr.
Per #Flyers GM Paul Holmgren: The Philadelphia Flyers have agreed to a contract with free agent RW Jaromir Jagr.
Terms have not yet been released, but Darren Dreger is reporting that he signed a 1-year deal for $3.3 million.
I’m trying to think of some type of analysis to add to this, but the Penguins fan in me is shocked beyond belief.
The only thought that keeps going through my mind is, “Does he realize what he’s just done?” Will he make more money in Philadelphia this year than he could have in Pittsburgh or Detroit? Perhaps. Maybe, he’ll even be on a team that fits him better.
But his legacy will be forever tarnished, even amongst die-hard, long-time Jagr supporters, a group that Jimmy and I belong to.
It’s incredibly hard to put this whole thing into words. I’ve built up a fair wall between myself and emotions watching hockey. At least, gut-emotions. I enjoy watching the games, I still support the Penguins and I try to work irrational thoughts out of my mind.
But Jaromir Jagr, after a very public flirtation, spurns the Penguins to go to their most hated of rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers.
Words do no justice.
The Pittsburgh Penguins announced today that a 1-year, $2 million contract that they had offered to Jaromir Jagr was being taken off of the table.
“We made what we thought was a very fair contract offer to Jaromir on Tuesday, based on his stated interest of returning to the Penguins,” said Ray Shero, the team’s executive vice president and general manager. "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.
“Jaromir is one of the greatest players in Penguins history, and we wish him all the best.”
Shortly after the Penguins rescinded their offer, the Detroit Red Wings withdrew theirs as well.
There’s a number of ways to look at this, but my best guess is that Petr Svoboda, Jagr’s agent, came back to the Penguins with a higher salary number this morning and Shero was less than thrilled.
Last night, ESPN’s Scott Burnside reported that the ubiquitous Svoboda told him that the number of teams interested in Jagr’s talents was rapidly increasing.
“There’s a lot more teams now we’re talking to,” Svoboda told ESPN.com Thursday evening.
And with that list of teams growing, so too, assuredly, did the Czech winger’s demands.
Thus, finally, puts an end to the ridiculous social media phenomenon that was JagrWatch.
As the NHL free agency deadline approaches, it's Tyler Kennedy, not Jaromir Jagr, who will get the bulk of the Penguins' attention Friday morning, the Post-Gazette reports. The Penguins have already extended an offer to Jagr and they aren't planning on changing it, so in that case, there's little for them to do but wait and see if he accepts.
For Kennedy, though, they're going to be more active, and Kennedy's agent, Steve Bartlett, thinks Kennedy and the Penguins will be able to reach an agreement.
"We're continuing to feel like we're making slow, steady progress," Bartlett said. "My gut tells me we'll find a way to close the gap" ...
"I wouldn't be optimistic if there was a large gap," he said. "We're trying to grind through some ideas about [the length of the deal] and other things that affect the [salary]."
Kennedy had 21 goals and 24 assists last year, and while some of that was due to injuries to Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin - meaning he's unlikely to repeat those numbers if Crosby and Malkin are healthy - he's a very nice player to have around, particularly given that the Penguins can use help at the wing positions.
The same Post-Gazette article, by the way, indicates that Mike Rupp will not be back next year.
For more on the Penguins, check out PensBurgh.
After hour after hour of JagrWatching on Wednesday, it became clear Thursday night that not only was Jaromir Jagr not through being the belle of the ball, but he wasn't even sure the Penguins were his date.
By midweek it looked clear that, whatever the holdups might be, Jagr would eventually sign with the Pens. The Pens had offered him a deal to finish his career in the town where he had made his name, and although there had been rumblings about the Red Wings and Canadiens before, they had long before faded into the background. All that remained was for Jagr to fly across the ocean, take a couple hours to make sure he knew what he wanted, and strike a deal.
Given all the hype that surrounded the possibility of his return, the pain that a lot of Pens fans would feel if the Flyers signed Jagr would truly be something to behold, as would the decibel level of the boos Jagr would receive every time he stepped onto the ice at Consol Energy Center.
Come on, Jaromir. Don't mess this up. The Penguins and their fans are giving you a chance to end your career in just about the best way possible. Take it.
First, agent Petr Svoboda said Wednesday was going to be Decision Day. Ray Shero, the Penguins’ GM, openly stated that he, too, expected a decision on his one-year offer on that same day.
Then, the agent says Jagr will deliver his decision within an hour of landing at JFK.
Then, the turtles.
Then, Jagr’s whereabouts become unknown to the point that even Svoboda embarrassingly admits that he doesn’t know where his client is. But still, more promises come that the decision will be today.
And now, Svoboda casually declares that a couple other teams have poked their heads into the hole and that a decision might not come today.
I understand that the free agency deadline is coming but, but I can’t help but wonder if we’d be having responses like this to this situation 10 years ago, when the news cycle was much slower. Yes, Svoboda not knowing Jagr’s exact whereabouts is, I suppose, mildly embarrassing, given that Jagr was supposed to be making a decision.
But it’s not that embarrassing. Jagr is an athlete with a life and a mind of his own, and if he wants to delay making a major decision by, what, 24 hours, that’s really his prerogative, and 20 years ago, it’s likely that the only people who would have noticed or cared much are journalists like Kovacevic. His paper, the Trib, has been the one most on top of the Jagr situation – the number of links to the Trib’s coverage in this storystream is evidence of that – and though no fault of their own, they have little of consequence to show for it, because Jagr still hasn’t signed.
Meanwhile, certain quarters of the Pens' fanbase have all but gone nuts, spreading every imaginable rumor about Jagr and all but stalking him as he made his way to the United States Wednesday. If there’s anything that’s ridiculous about this situation, I would say it’s all the rumor-mongering, not the fact that a player who’s probably jet-lagged is taking 24 hours longer than expected to make a decision. If everyone relaxes a bit, this will be over soon enough.
The Trib’s latest report on Jaromir Jagr’s status seems to backtrack a bit from its previous one, which said that Jagr and the Penguins already had a deal that would put him in black and gold next year, even before he departed for the United States.
“We are going to exchange some things,” Svoboda said, adding that he would also speak with Detroit and Montreal about Jagr.
“This is obviously a tough decision for Jaromir. His heart is in Pittsburgh.”
Jagr evidently is in New York, and we can probably expect something to be announced today. But it appears at least possible that the Detroit Red Wings and one other team are still in the mix. The Trib does, however, still indicate that some folks close to Mario Lemieux still believe that Jagr and the Penguins already have a deal.
There’s nothing to do, at this point, but wait and see. There’s been so much noise surrounding this signing, and so little signal. What we know, at this point, is that the Penguins have made an offer, that they’re one of a handful of teams in on Jagr, and that Jagr loves Mario Lemieux and has a deep history with the city of Pittsburgh. Until an unambiguous announcement is made, that’s all we’re likely to know.
After all the waiting and fretting and JagrWatching Wednesday about Jaromir Jagr, the details of his flight to the United States, and whether he would decide to sign with the Penguins when he landed, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports that Jagr and the Penguins had an agreement even before Jagr left.
But longtime acquaintances of team co-owner Mario Lemieux and NHL agents told the Tribune-Review an agreement was in place even as Jagr flew from the Czech Republic to the United States.
There was no confirmation of an agreement from the Penguins, Jagr or Jagr's agent, Petr Svoboda.
We'll have to wait until later in the day Thursday, at least, to get confirmation of this, but I learned from blogging about the Pirates that Dejan Kovacevic doesn't get out in front of things like this without knowing what he's talking about.
It also appears that the deal the Penguins offered Jagr was for one year and $2 million, in contrast to a report coming from a Russian newspaper Wednesday afternoon that claimed Jagr and the Penguins had already reached agreement on a $1.4 million contract.
In any case, the chances that Jagr will be a Penguin in 2011-2012 have now increased from "very likely" to "extremely likely." We'll see what develops Thursday.
For more on Jaromir Jagr and the Penguins, check out PensBurgh.
The Penguins have re-signed forward Arron Asham to a one-year deal, the team’s website reports. Asham will make $775,000. Asham appeared in 44 games as a role-player for the Pens in 2010-2011, but he stepped up in the playoffs for the Pens.
Asham, 33, recently completed his first season with the Penguins. The veteran winger was one of Pittsburgh’s top performers during the postseason, leading the team with three goals and tying for the team lead with four points in seven games.
Asham’s re-signing probably will have implications for the Penguins’ other free agent forwards, although of course we don’t know yet what those might be. The most likely scenario, though, probably involves the Penguins jettisoning Mike Rupp, while signing Jaromir Jagr and Tyler Kennedy, who are both higher-priority.
The rest of the week will tell us much more, as the key date here is Friday, July 1, which is when free agency officially begins. Look for the Penguins to make moves for Jagr and Kennedy before that.
I’m hearing that #Pens think Jagr will choose them, but it’s not confirmed. Some #FOM sound optimistic. We’ll see.
This JagrWatch stuff continues to feel like it’s consuming itself – we’ll know soon enough, so at this point, there isn’t much sense in getting all worked up about any of this stuff, whether it’s turtles blocking Jagr’s path at JFK airport or an unconfirmed report that the Penguins believe Jagr will sign.
At this point, though, there’s still plenty of cause for guarded optimism. As I’ve said the past couple days, the buzz around Jagr and the Penguins has gotten so loud that it would be very surprising if he signed elsewhere. It would be very hard to imagine him signing with the Red Wings after all the reports that have come out recently. Nothing I’ve heard today changes that.
In the meantime, I’m sure there will be some very pertinent updates in the next half hour about Jagr flying into the Pittsburgh airport while disguised as a woman, Mario Lemieux striking deals with the Czech secret police, and Petr Svoboda sending coded text messages to Ray Shero from an underground hockey training facility in St. Petersburg. Just remember, you heard them here first. JagrWatch!
For more on Jaromir Jagr and the Penguins, choose PensBurgh.
Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweets that at a quarter to five Wednesday, Jaromir Jagr’s agent Petr Svoboda says his client still has not landed in New York. Jagr is expected to make known his decision about whether or not to sign with the Penguins shortly after his plane touches down.
It sounds like Jagrwatch could go on into the evening. In the meantime, Twitter is abuzz with crazy rumors – that Jagr is already on a flight to Pittsburgh, and so on. He apparently isn’t, and no amount of tweeting will change that. The number of references I’ve seen to the fact that somebody already decided to list Jagr’s name on the Penguins’ roster on Wikipedia is, likewise, staggering. Jagr would be a nice addition to the Pens, in that he helps in a position of need and can contribute on the power play, and he’s certainly an important figure in the history of the organization. But the amount of hype that’s surrounding his arrival is pretty crazy. I half-expect that there are a bunch of Penguins fans running around JFK airport right now looking for him.
Svoboda says that Jagr is on his way to the states and will arrive in New York later Wednesday afternoon. He also says that Jagr has not yet signed with the Penguins or anyone else:
“None of the rumors are true,” he said. “He hasn’t signed with anyone yet.”
Also, Penguins GM Ray Shero said earlier Wednesday that Jagr hadn’t yet told him whether he would accept the Penguins’ offer.
Svoboda says today is still ‘Decision Day’ – Jagr will decide what to do shortly after his plane touches down late Wednesday afternoon. So we might hear something a little more reliable here in a couple hours.
It is, of course, certainly possible that Jagr told someone in Europe what his decision would be before he left, and that’s where the Russian paper got the information for its report. But rather than speculating on all that, probably the best thing to do right now is simply to wait. We’ll know soon enough what Jagr plans to do. Again, though, it would shock me at this point if he did anything other than sign with the Pens.
Take it with a grain of salt for now, but Gazeta, a popular Russian website, is reporting that Jaromir Jagr has agreed to terms with the Pittsburgh Penguins for a one-year deal $1.4 million. Here’s a rough translation of some of the key information, courtesy of Google Translate.
Jaromir Jagr 10 years later returned to the “Pittsburgh Pingvingz” by signing a contract with the NHL club for one season. According to Sportbox, officially will be announced on Friday, when the North American league free agent market opens. Approximate Salary 39-year old striker in the camp of the “penguin” will make $ 1.4 million.
I can’t evaluate the credibility of a Russian paper, even a popular one, so again, don’t get too excited here. We’ll probably hear something later on Wednesday regardless, so there’s no reason to freak out over one report. Still, this is some red meat for the many, many Penguins fans who badly want Jagr back. $1.4 million would be a very reasonable salary, a bit less than I was expecting, and it would leave the Penguins with about $5.5 million of cap room to go after Tyler Kennedy and Mike Rupp.
Thanks to Chris Rocco via Dejan Kovacevic.
For more on Jagr and the Penguins, check out PensBurgh.
Penguins fans are anticipating "Decision Day" on Wednesday, the title coined by general manager Ray Shero as he waits for Jaromir Jagr to let him know whether or not he's going to be a Penguin in 2011-2012. On Tuesday, Shero offered Jagr a one-year contract. It's unclear how much money he offered, but he describes the amount as "fair" and "respectful." He also says it won't interfere with the Pens' aspirations of re-signing Tyler Kennedy and Mike Rupp, so given that the Pens have around $7 million in cap room left, it's probably around a couple million bucks.
At this point, it would be very surprising to me if Jagr did not return to the Pens. The buzz surrounding the possibility of his return to Pittsburgh has gotten incredibly loud, while rumors of him signing with another team, such as the Detroit Red Wings or Montreal Canadiens, have faded into the background.
Penguins fans, meanwhile, are excited. ThePensBlog's entire front page heralds "The Decision" and, inside, notes that the Root Sports cameras caught a Pirates fan at the game in Toronto on Tuesday holding a sign that says "I'm on Jagrwatch." #Jagrwatch has become a big hashtag on Twitter. #ComeHomeJagr is pretty big, too. Dejan Kovacevic describes Wednesday as "J-Day." And then there's this video. One thing's for sure: If Jagr doesn't sign with the Penguins, a lot of fans are going to be really disappointed.
For more on Jagr and the Penguins, check out PensBurgh.
Penguins general manager Ray Shero confirmed this evening that he has offered free agent right winger Jaromir Jagr a one-year contract — he declined to divulge the financial aspects of the proposal — and said he expect to learn Wednesday whether Jagr will accept it.
“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,” Shero said. “We feel he’s a guy who could help us this year, and retire as a Penguin.”
Not the most flattering of compliments from the Penguin’s general manager, but still a step in the right direction.
Shero added that he did not know if any other teams had offered Jagr a contract,. It is rumored that Detroit and Montreal are also interested in the five-time NHL scoring champion.
“Tomorrow,” Shero said, “is decision day.”
I wait with baited breath.
Jaromir Jagr’s agent, Petr Svoboda, says that as of late Tuesday afternoon, the Penguins had still not made an offer for his client, Dave Molinari at the Post-Gazette reports. Svoboda did, however, talk to Penguins general manager Ray Shero today, so it sounds like the Penguins do continue to have interest. The Detroit Red Wings are also interested in Jagr, as is another team, perhaps the Montreal Canadiens.
I’m not sure if there’s anything we should read into this, but there probably isn’t. It just might be another day or two before we hear anything more specific about Jagr’s destination. Jagr’s name has been connected to the Pens so many times in the last week that at this point, it would be somewhat surprising if the Penguins didn’t sign him, despite Shero’s apparent hesitation. He’s a great fit for the Pens both in terms of his skills and in what he means to the organization.
The Trib quotes Svoboda saying earlier Tuesday that he would meet with Shero Tuesday afternoon (a meeting which presumably has now taken place) and that Svoboda hopes to have a better idea about Jagr’s destination tomorrow, meaning Wednesday. We’ll see – it wouldn’t shock me if this went on for a couple more days.
Here’s Pensburgh on the signing:
Dupuis is a valuable player who can slot into a variety of roles on any line and is a good penalty killer. His speed and forechecking make him a natural for the Penguins system.
At two years and just a nominal $100,000 pay raise off his last contract, this has to be considered a win for the Penguins.
Dupuis had 17 goals and 20 assists in 2010-2011, to go along with 18 goals and 20 assists in 2009-2010. Dupuis is a solid performer, and the salary to which the Penguins have signed him is very reasonable. Now the Penguins can set their sights on Jaromir Jagr (who could reach an agreement with an NHL team such as the Penguins at some point this week) and Tyler Kennedy. Due to the salary cap, the Pens have about $7 million left with which to pursue them.
Petr Svoboda, who represents Jaromir Jagr, indicates that his client could sign soon. The Post-Gazette says that decision could come "as early as Tuesday."
He said that Jagr still hasn't received a contract offer from the Penguins, but that "there is interest from both sides" and added that, "If you call me tomorrow, there will be much more happening" ...
Detroit had publicly expressed interest in trying to sign Jagr, but Svoboda said there is "nothing concrete" with any NHL team ...
"We'll make a decision in the next couple of days," Svoboda said.
Penguins fans want Jagr to re-sign with the team, both for sentimental reasons and for hockey reasons. He would be a big help on the power play, and he would help shore up the Pens' relatively weak corps of wingers. Pens coach Dan Bylsma has also repeatedly expressed his support for such a move. We'll see whether Jagr and the Penguins are able to complete a deal. It would seem to make sense for both sides - Jagr would get to cement his legacy as an NHL Hall of Famer and an all-time great Penguin, all while playing with hockey's top player in Sidney Crosby.
The Detroit Red Wings are apparently also interested in Jagr, and there's also the possibility that he could sign with another team in Russia.
There doesn't appear to be much new on the Jaromir Jagr front as of early Monday morning, but Dave Molinari of the Post-Gazette tosses some fuel on the fire that's been burning recently around rumors of the winger's return to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The support for signing free-agent right winger Jaromir Jagr among large portions of the Penguins’ fan base really is remarkable. Not only because, among other things, Jagr will turn 40 in February and NHL teams still don’t seem to be sold on the idea that he wants to return to North America strictly because of the challenge of playing in the world’s best league, but because of the way Jagr was treated every time he returned to Pittsburgh after being traded to Washington a decade ago. One has to believe that some of the people who booed so viciously every time Jagr touched the puck when wearing a Capitals or New York Rangers [jersey] at Mellon Arena now will demand Shero’s immediate firing if he concludes that offering Jagr a contract isn’t in the best interest of his franchise.
Well, y'know, sports fans like to boo. And I think both the booing and the pining come from the same place, which is that Penguins fans wish that Jagr had stuck around. I'm not sure anyone booed because they were glad Jagr was gone. Ultimately, we'll have to see if Jagr eventually signs, but if he does, Penguins fans will welcome him back with open arms. That might seem strange, but I don't think it's contradictory. You might claim to hate your ex after she's spurned you, but if she decides she wants to you back, your tone might change dramatically.
All this is assuming Shero truly wants Jagr, and I'm not convinced that's the case ...
But the Shero with whom I spoke here wasn't exactly doing cartwheels over Jagr. He isn't elaborating on the topic in any way, so this is just a sense I get. Shero has a roster he likes, a chemistry he likes, a style of player he likes, and he is right to have concerns on all those fronts.
Hm. Well, we'll see what happens. Regardless of what Shero might think, Jagr might be such a good fit for the Penguins that they can't really ignore him. Also, Kovacevic notes some positive aspects of the Jagr situation here, for those hoping Jagr will sign with the Pens: he reasons that the rumors connecting Jagr to the Penguins and to the Detroit Red Wings aren't attempts by Jagr to extract more money to continue playing in Russia, because the Pens and Red Wings don't have a lot of cap room. Also, Jagr has made a ton of money over the course of his career, and an extra million bucks is probably chump change to him at this point.
Penguins head coach Dan Bylsma may or may not have been doing homework on Jaromir Jagr’s attitude recently and the results may or may not have alleviated some concerns Penguins’ management may or may not have had about the Czech winger.
Or at least that’s what he may or may not have told Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review at the NHL Draft in Minnesota.
“If I had done homework, that’s not what I’ve heard,” Bylsma said of Jagr’s bad reputation with coaches. "I haven’t heard that from people who may or may not have played with him at the World Championships.
That player who may or may not have played with Jagr at this year’s World Championships may or may not be Zbynek Michalek.
Bylsma further went on to state, without the use of several adverbs, that Jagr was the Penguins’ priority heading towards the start of the NHL’s free agency period.
Bylsma confirmed that the “Jagr watch” is a primary issue for the Penguins and spoke at length of Jagr’s talent.
“It’s on the front burner now with July 1 coming,” he said.
The Detroit Red Wings have made an offer to Jaromir Jagr, the Detroit Free Press reports. Jagr could also very well end up with the Penguins, who have been connected to the winger more and more over the past few weeks.
Representative Petr Svoboda is in the Czech Republic with Jagr, who is deciding whether to return to the NHL after three seasons in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League. A decision could come today, but the Wings are prepared to wait.
"For us, we need to know by July 1," Holland said shortly before attending the NHL awards at the Pearl Theater at the Palms. "I don't know if he decides to go to Russia. We know what we're prepared to do."
It looks like we're edging closer to reaching some sort of finality with regard to Jagr - we'll probably know fairly soon whether he'll sign with the Red Wings or Penguins, or return to Russia. The Pens would, it appears, be lucky to have him, since he'd help out immediately on the power play and at wing. A lot of Pens fans will be disappointed if he signs with Detroit.
More news on the Jaromir Jagr front today as the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's Josh Yohe reports the former Penguins forward today met with club owner and former teammate Mario Lemieux. Signals on whether a return to Pittsburgh is in the cards Jagr, though, are still mixed.
Lemieux came away encouraged by the conversation, according to sources.
However, the Penguins have not made an offer and are not convinced that Jagr would be willing to play for less money in Pittsburgh. Detroit is also interested in Jagr and likely will offer the NHL's 9th all-time leading scorer more money.
Yohe says there is debate within the organization over whether Jagr is still a top-six level forward and that general manager Ray Shero is hesitant to offer him more than $1 million. With a number of restricted and unrestricted free agents to worry about as well, the Pens will have to navigate the Jagr sweepstakes carefully.
"It's absolutely not true," Petr Svoboda said when presented with the leverage theory. "I've heard that, but it's not true. I mean, there's always that option if things don't work out with (the NHL), but this is not about trying to get more money from (the KHL). I know Jags wants to come back to the NHL and for the right reasons."
Many Penguins fans were somewhat concerned about the possibility that, after all this, Jagr would go back to the KHL. It's looking more and more like he'll end up in the NHL, though, and if he's going to play in the NHL, the Penguins definitely should be contenders - he's a good match for their needs right now, and he still has a home in town.
“I’ve spoken to [agent Petr Svoboda] a couple times about Jagr. I’ve talked to Jagr once,” [Penguins GM Ray] Shero said after attending the NHL Awards show, where the Penguins’ Dan Bylsma received the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.
“That’s really about it. We have not made an offer. I’m going to talk to our staff to see whether there would be interest. We have to decide internally whether or not we want to [pursue signing Jagr].”
Shero knows best, I suppose, but most Pens fans want to see this happen – not only because it’s Jagr, but because he can help on the power play and at wing. But the good news is that Shero says that both Jagr and his agent have said that Jagr really is serious about coming back to the NHL – he’s not just using the Penguins’ interest as leverage to get a better deal in Russia.
Jagr’s agent says not to expect his client to sign “in the next couple of days,” the Post-Gazette reports.
Dejan Kovacevic at the Trib argues that the Penguins should reacquire Jaromir Jagr – not because he’s a great name from the Penguins’ past, but because he can help the Penguins now. Kovacevic’s argument is the best one I’ve seen so far in favor of adding Jagr, and it’s pretty convincing.
Remember power-play goals?
Jagr still can work the half-wall as well as anyone in hockey, both from a shooting and passing standpoint. And if you don’t think that’s the Penguins’ greatest need going into next season, then we weren’t watching the same team these past few months …
I watched Jagr up close just last year at the Olympics in Vancouver, and he was nothing less than the tournament’s best forward in the early going. Still had those tree-trunk legs churning. Still had the devastating finish. Still saw the whole ice. He faded some, then was crushed on an open-ice check by Alex Ovechkin, punishment for skating through the middle with his head down. Even so, on a Czech team loaded up front, the “old man,” as Jagr jokingly called himself, stood tallest.
Everything I’ve seen so far suggests that adding Jagr is a good idea, not only because he fits the Penguins from a positional standpoint, but because he can help on the power play. All that remains to be seen is whether both sides have legitimate interest. There have been reports that each side does, and there seems to be more and more smoke here each day, but there’s nothing to do but wait and see.
The Pittsburgh Tribune Review’s Josh Yohe is reporting, via Jaromir Jagr’s very-talkative agent Petr Svoboda, that the Czech winger is expected to speak with Penguins owner Mario Lemieux and general manager Ray Shero Wednesday.
“That’s what I am expecting to happen today,” Svoboda said. “They are supposed to talk.”
Svoboda went on to backtrack from his earlier statements that Jagr could have signed with an NHL team as early as yesterday, saying the timetable has been extended a bit longer.
“But nothing is going to happen in the next couple of days,” Svoboda said.
“I would say there is a good chance something gets done before July 1,” Svoboda said. “It’s not anything for sure, of course. It’s not 100 percent. But something could get done. It just won’t be in the next couple of days.”
Svoboda is still in the Czech Republic, but is expected to head stateside later this week for the NHL draft.
Jagr’s respect and admiration for Lemieux has been well-documented over the past few seasons. ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun speculated earlier this week that the one thing that could really turn this courtship in the Penguins favor would be some real investment, of both time and money, from Lemieux.
That may come today, if the conversation goes well and Lemieux is convinced that Jagr can make an impact if he returns.
Now, will Jagr play in Pittsburgh for the maximum of $1 million the Penguins are supposedly willing to invest in him? Not likely. How about if the Penguins tripled that? Perhaps. And, as Mark Madden pointed out on his blog yesterday, there aren’t many impact wingers available on the free agent market for the price tag Jagr is likely seeking.
Who else can the Penguins sign? Cory Stillman? Nikolai Zherdev? Jussi Jokinen? Those guys might all cost MORE. The Penguins can’t afford Michael Ryder. Mike Knuble is almost as old as Jagr. There’s going to be an element of risk with any of those guys, Jagr included. So you have to consider risk vs. potential reward.
Of course, if Jagr is expecting to reel in more than the theorized $2.5-3 million price tag, he’ll have to settle for Detroit or the mystery team, as the Penguins would simply be unable to afford it while tightrope walking the salary cap.
Would Dan Bylsma like to add a player like Jaromir Jagr to the Penguins roster in a perfect world? Absolutely, at least according to some quotes from the Penguins’ head coach supplied by Sam Kasan of the team’s’ official website.
On adding Jaromir Jagr:
Hypothetically, you’re talking about a guy 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. He’s a power-play guy. What you saw him do in the World Championship against NHL-caliber players was nothing short of outstanding on a bigger ice surface. Those are intriguing things to think about hypothetically. It’s tough not to think about adding 75 points to your roster if it’s something you’re capable of doing.
On if he’ll lobby Shero to add Jagr:
We were having the coaches meetings and there was an article in the Russian paper about some interest on Jagr’s part in talking to the Penguins. That was about a month ago. We found that to be amusing since that wasn’t true. But it was intriguing to see that it was out there that the had said there was interest there.
Lots of caveats and non-denials. Still, Bylsma’s respect for Jagr’s ability is quite evident.
Bylsma added that he, personally, has had zero contact with Jagr and that the organization hasn’t either. Whether that’s true or not is anyone’s guess at this point.
Jagr could just be using the Penguins as a bargaining chip, as some have suggested. The Penguins could be doing the same thing, putting pressure on players like Tyler Kennedy to agree to reasonable terms.
Either way, this should all play out in the very near future.
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun has been all over Jaromir Jagr’s possible return to the NHL from the start, and today he’s reporting that the Penguins are one of three teams in the mix for the Czech winger, echoing much of what Charlie posted earlier.
Svoboda said Jagr would sign a one-year deal with one of those three NHL teams. He also said a decision should be made within the next few days, perhaps as early as Tuesday. Jagr met all day with Svoboda on Monday and the two were slated to meet again later Tuesday.
The news comes via Jagr’s agent, Petr Svoboda, who claims that the Detroit Red Wings and a “mystery team” are the other hopefuls.
LeBrun further reported on Twitter this morning:
@Real_ESPNLeBrun Am told Pittsburgh is interested in Jagr only if it’s a very low price… My guess that means $1 million or less…
Though the Pittsburgh rumors have sent longtime fans (like myself) into a tizzy, Detroit would appear to be the front runner on this. They have publicly acknowledged their interest in Jagr, had their head coach, Mike Babcock, speak with him personally, and, reportedly, offered more money than the Penguins. Still, there’s a chance..
If Svoboda is being sincere, we’ll know the answer soon enough … possibly as soon as today.
I've already written about the possible return of Jaromir Jagr to the Penguins here and here, but it looks like we're going to be talking about it for a while, so in the meantime, any news about him will go in this thread. Rob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review is set to kick off a new round of discussion about the Penguins star's return with this report.
The Penguins currently have no comment, but were considering options regarding Jagr over the weekend. Jagr's camp reached out to the Penguins at some point over the past three days.
The Red Wings and Penguins are as of now considered his top choices, but sources said a third team is in the mix. That team is not believed to be Montreal.
Jagr's camp is meeting today to discuss his options.
It's possible that all this is a ruse to increase Jagr's bargaining leverage for a new deal in Europe. These Jagr rumors have looked dead at least a couple times in the past month So who knows? But Jagr still might be a strong NHL player, and the Penguins can use another good winger. As some folks at PensBurgh pointed out on Monday, it would be hard to see him picking Detroit over Pittsburgh, if those are the two choices - he fits the Penguins' team needs better, he has a history here, and Pittsburgh is a much better place to live.
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