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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Jags a Pen Again?

Ok, enough is enough.  I can't sit idly by and watch this thing unfold before my eyes involving one of my all time favorite players without making some commentary.  I just can't.  So consider this a warning.  The post may contain sudden outbursts of excitement and jubilation followed by moments of doubt and pain.

If you are a hockey fan and don't live under a rock, you are already aware of the ongoing saga of Jaromir Jagr, arguably one of, if not THE greatest European born hockey player of all time.  Argue all you want with your Lidstrom's and your Bure's or your Ovechkin's.  I will just ignore you because you are wrong.  For those of you that don't know, here's a quick recap.

Jagr, who is now 39 years old, has continually expressed interest in returning to the NHL for quite sometime.  He has played the last three seasons back in Russia but has since peaked the interest of a few teams due to his stellar play at the Olympics and World Championships.  The teams that showed interest were rumored to include Detroit, Montreal, Los Angeles, and Tampa Bay.  But the most hype and press hullabaloo surrounds his possibly return to where it all started, Pittsburgh. 

Flash forward to three days ago, when Jagr's agent, Petr Svoboda (yes that Petr Svoboda), mentioned his potential "trip" across the pond to New York/Washington/Pittsburgh?  Flash forward again to today.  Jagr is rumored to have been making his way to Pittsburgh to potentially give a response directly to Ray Shero and Mario Lemieux regarding their rumored 1 year, $2 Million dollar offer.  And here we are.

Now no one seems to know where he is.  No one has gotten a decision or heard from him in hours.  Detroit still thinks they may be in the running for a chance to sign him.  Pittsburgh fans and sports writers alike are going bat $#!+ crazy right now, salivating at the idea of having a former Penguin icon strap on the skates one more time.  The Pens apparently set today as a "deadline" day for a decision on whether he is going to sign.  There is, afterall, more than one player to be signed, including Asham, Kennedy, Adams, and Dupuis (to which three already signed as of me writing this).  Technically Jagr can't officially sign a contract until July 1st but he could let a team know of his intentions.

So what are those intentions?  He wants to play in the NHL again.  That is obvious.  The question is for how long.  I can't see anyone offering more than a year or two on a contract.  Plus, at what cost?  $2 Million seems to be a max number that he could get although going back to Russia and the KHL would probably get him more.  But the thought of retiring as an NHLer would all but guarantee him a first ballot HOF nod.  Plus if you believe the rumors, he has always thought he owed Mario a debt of gratitude and has spoken many times of returning to play for him again.  But I'm not entirely convinced he has enough left in the tank.  That being said, is it worth the $2 Million to get him for one last hurrah?

To me...that answer is a resounding YES!!  Bring him back, even for only a year.  He would be a perfect compliment to a Crosby line or Malkin line and would instantly make the power play 68% better.  Even at half speed, he is better than half the guys in the NHL today.  I don't care how much it hurt when he left.  I don't care how he wanted all the spotlight and didn't want to take the pay cut to stay with the Pens.  I don't care that his visage was burned in effigy for years thereafter.  I DON'T CARE!!  I'm over it.  I was over it five years ago.  I was definitely over it in 2008 after the Cup win.  I want to see him back in Pittsburgh.  I want him to retire as a Pen where he belongs.  But if not with us, at least against us.  Yeah, I said it.  As long as he comes back, I don't care.

I'm excited by the thought.  It's the best news in the Pens camp since Crosby started skating again.  Whatever happens, it was at least a welcomed distraction for the last few weeks.  I can't wait to see what happens over the next few days.  July 1st is only two days away.

He's HOF bound regardless though.  He is 9th all-time in NHL scoring with 1,599 points in 1,273 games, 42 behind Joe Sakic, which he could easily surpass in one season.  17 years in the league with 11 in Pittsburgh has been quite an accomplishment as well.  Not to mention the two Stanley Cups, Hart Trophy (was also a finalist five times), five Art Ross trophies and four Lester B. Pearson Awards.

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