Just over a week ago, I wrote an article on why I didn’t think the Penguins should have gone after Jaromir Jagr. While the rest of Pittsburgh was clamoring over a possible return and the hashtag #jagrwatch was the number one trending topic on Twitter for Pittsburgh, I stayed with my argument.
“The mullet has to come back to the ‘Burgh” or “He can still score,” people would say to me.
While I agree it would have been a nice flash from the past to add Jagr to the lineup for sentimental reasons, I just didn’t think he was worth the money. Pens general manager Ray Shero announced Tuesday that the Penguins put out a formal offer for $2 million for 1 year. Needless to say, after the most hectic three days in recent Penguins offseason memory, the Penguins have officially withdrawn their offer for Jagr.
My reasoning for not wanting Jagr was that I felt they could have spent the money more wisely, not that I felt he was still the immature player he was towards the end of his stint here in Pittsburgh. After the past three days, it has become clear to me and the rest of Penguins nation that Jagr hasn’t grown up one bit.
Two years ago, Jagr told Lemieux that he wants to come back to Pittsburgh and he would even play for the league minimum. After the Penguins officially put their offer on the table, Jagr was supposed to make his appearance in the United States on Wednesday and confirm he was playing for the Penguins. It was as good as done. Even ESPN reported on SportsCenter Wednesday that the Penguins and Jagr have agreed on a 1-year deal worth $2 million.
The problem is that Jagr officially took over the identity of Carmen San Diego, because no one knew where in the world he was. He missed his flight from the Czech Republic on Wednesday night, was reported to be at Wimbledon, there were turtles on the runway that didn’t let his plane land and even his agent, former player Petr Svoboda, said he was clueless as to where he was.
As Wednesday passed into Thursday, there was more pessimism amongst Pittsburgh, but everyone tried to stay optimistic that Jagr was coming back. Until his agent announced that it wasn’t just Pittsburgh and Detroit in the running anymore, but Montreal and Philadelphia of all teams were in the Jagr running. The excitement of a Jagr return and the forgiveness the fans were showing him, slowly dwindled away.
At 11:40 a.m. Friday, general manager Ray Shero officially withdrew his offer for Jagr.
“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 Shero. “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.”
Could anyone have expected less from Shero? This isn’t Craig Patrick we are talking about that would suck up to Jagr. Pittsburgh hockey fans are in a state of shock and disappointment. This shouldn’t have come as too much of a surprise to people though, as they were too quick to forgive Jagr. This is the same Jagr that wanted to be traded and sulked around the clubhouse asking why he is even getting paid. Yes, the same Jagr that said he was “dying alive” in Pittsburgh before enough was enough and he was traded in July of 2001 to the Washington Capitals.
What Jagr did in Pittsburgh shouldn’t be forgotten or overlooked. He is the second greatest player (sorry Crosby) in Penguins history as of now, but he will be looked at as an enemy and booed for the rest of his days in Pittsburgh. He may have cost the Penguins a chance to re-sign Mike Rupp or Max Talbot. The Penguins did pull off a last second deal with Tyler Kennedy worth $2 million over 2 years before free agency started, someone who actually WANTS to be in Pittsburgh.
Wherever you end up Jagr, best wishes to you. Just know that the “city your heart was in” forgave you once, but not again. You said “you owed it to Mario”, but really you owed it to yourself to retire where you started. I hope the extra money is worth it Jagr.
About the Author
Written by Michael Waterloo
I'm currently pursuing my Master's degree in Communication and Journalism from Clarion University. I currently work for Ohio Valley Athletics where I serve as the West Virginia Football Beat Writer and cover West Virginia Men's Basketball as well. I'm a big Pittsburgh Pirates, Philadelphia Eagles, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers and Oregon Ducks fan. Follow me on Twitter at @MichaelWaterloo or visit www.ovathletics.com