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Jaromir Jagr explains why he signed with the Philadelphia Flyers

Jul 2, 2011, 2:06 PM EST

Tomas Rolinek, Jaromir Jagr AP

When “Jagr watch” was at its peak on Wednesday, it seemed like the top teams in the Jaromir Jagr sweepstakes were his former team the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Detroit Red Wings and perhaps the Montreal Canadiens. Yet it was the typically out-of-left-field Philadelphia Flyers who made yet another out-of-left-field transaction, signing the future Hall of Famer to a one-year, $3.3 million deal.

Many people asked a natural question: “Why?” (For some melodramatic Penguins fans, it probably looked more like one of those scenes in a movie in which a character drops to his or her knees, screams “Whyyyyy?!?!” and looks to the heavens as rain pours on that sad character’s head.)

While many Penguins fans wonder if Jagr merely made the most hurtful decision possible, the instinctive reaction is to say that he simply followed the dollars. After all, $3.3 million is a lot more than the $2 million Pittsburgh reportedly offered.

Deep down, that might be the case, but Jagr put his own spin on the situation this afternoon. Jagr said the decision wasn’t about money and kind-of, sort-of apologized to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“If the Penguins feel like I did something wrong, or something bad, I cannot change their minds,” Jagr said. “If I hurt somebody, I apologize I didn’t mean it, but what people have to understand is that it’s my life and I want to make the choice.”

(snip)

“I could easily stay in Russia, make a lot more money and play 50 games,” Jagr said. “But I wanted to try this.”

Some readers might have a little trouble buying into what Jagr was selling during this press conference, but it was interesting nonetheless.

There were two other highlights (or low points) of the press conference. The first came when explained that playing with Philly’s two right-handed centers (Claude Giroux and Danny Briere) would work out better than skating alongside Pittsburgh’s two lefty pivots (Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin).

“If I were playing in Pittsburgh, Crosby and Malkin are both left handed,” Jagr said. “I don’t think I could play there. I don’t think I would have a chance to play there.”

If that didn’t stretch the boundaries of believability enough for you, check out the second most surprising comment from the press conference.

“I’ve got only one goal, that’s to make people happy,” Jagr said. “To make them happy — those who believed that I could be good. If those people are happy, I’m happy.”

His successes probably won’t make Penguins fans very happy, though. The anger toward Jagr will probably be overblown whenever the former Penguins star plays in the Consol Energy Center, but it’s wrong to take it too personally. Jagr can make some all the obscure excuses he wants, but it’s pretty clear that Philly made a substantial offer to him. Maybe there were some weak teams that also came his way, but it’s likely that the only higher bidders were non-contenders. It might not have just been about money, but it was probably mostly about the cash.

Either way, expect Penguins fans to do what they’ve done to Jagr for many year since he departed: boo him heartily.

  1. virusgvr - Jul 2, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    This guy is officially a douche in my eyes now.

  2. tharealest0431 - Jul 2, 2011 at 3:59 PM

    …who in their right mind wouldnt wanna play with crosby an malkin? jagr once again proved to be one of the biggest clowns in pro sports. dude shoulda just kept his mouth shut instead of making those hilarious comments. maybe after hockey he can become a stand up comedian. goodluck flyers!

  3. trigzter - Jul 2, 2011 at 4:07 PM

    he already played for the rangers and caps. whats the big deal that he plays for the flyers now, when pitt wasn’t willing to give him any decent money.

  4. m1k3g - Jul 2, 2011 at 5:53 PM

    As a Penguins fan and whose favorite player used to be Jagr, let me explain a few things to you guys commenting that don’t appear to be Penguins fans:

    Yes, he’s been gone a decade, and yes he was a free agent allowed to make his own decision. However….

    He’s been angling for a while now to come back and play for the Penguins. He’s even gone so far as to say that he would play for them for league minimum. He had multiple conversations with Ray Shero over the last few months which progressed so far that he eventually spoke directly with Mario Lemieux.

    What was said between the two, who knows? But seeing how far this thing went, one can only logically derive that he led Mario to believe he wanted to come back to the Penguins.

    This would’ve been good on a number of fronts. Most of all, he would’ve been welcomed back into ‘the family'; maybe had his jersey number hoisted to the rafters some day and even had his number retired.

    Instead, he essentially disrespected Mario (who is one of the most highly-regarded athletes in the city’s history – and that’s saying a lot when you’re talking about the town the Steelers play in). And he did it in front of the entire world.

    In the end it looks like he basically used the Penguins as negotiation leverage.

    I’ve always stuck up for Jagr. Even after the way he left in 2001, I defended him and reminded fans that this guy carried our team during the times when Mario was either hurt or retired.

    But it saddens me to see what he’s done here. He threw away his entire legacy in this city for what will probably amount to less than $700,000 after taxes. That’s a drop in the bucket for him when you consider everything he’s earned over the course of his career.

    And to do it by going to the Flyers? I don’t think Penguins fans will dislike them more for signing him. We’ll dislike him more for choosing to go there.

    He’ll never be welcome in Pittsburgh again. He’ll go down as the most hated athlete in the city’s history.

    And there’s absolutely no reason it had to happen this way.

    • derekcavaliero - Jul 3, 2011 at 5:11 AM

      m1k3g, I completely agree.

      The offer Shero presented Jagr was more than fair for a 40 year old winger. Especially for the opportunity to win, not to mention the emotional baggage that comes with Jagr.

      Essentially Philadelphia has traded away two of their top six players for Max Talbot and a washed up old man.

      I wanted to see Jagr come back to Pittsburgh and make amends but the way he handled this was up there with Lebron James’ live T.V. debut to screw Cleveland over. 1.3 million is nothing in the NHL especially for someone who made 100 times that in his lifetime. Maybe if he didn’t have such a gambling problem he wouldn’t be so greedy.

      All in all I think this is a win for Pittsburgh fans, let Jagr go and play for Philly and give the next prospect in the Pens organization the number 68. Jagr’s jersey won’t be retired in Pittsburgh.

      I loved him when he was here and was wiling to give him a second chance now Jagr is dead to me.

    • norm903 - Jul 3, 2011 at 10:19 AM

      Second most hated. Hossa clearly ranks #1.

    • bigdicktater - Jul 3, 2011 at 2:55 PM

      Why should $3.3M get whittled down to $700K after taxes?
      Just asking, ’cause I make the money and let my CPA protect it.

      • m1k3g - Jul 3, 2011 at 3:29 PM

        Flyers offer $3.3M
        Penguins offer $2M

        Gross difference = $1.3M

        Subtract tax @ ~40%

        Net difference = ~$700k

      • bigdicktater - Jul 3, 2011 at 4:25 PM

        Well, I see your point on the $1.3M difference, but even that’s $780K, isn’t it?
        I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’ve got the same accountants as GE and I haven’t paid income tax in years.

  5. dcent87 - Jul 2, 2011 at 6:01 PM

    I didn’t know players have yo explain why they go to philly now a days

    • chrispel78 - Jul 2, 2011 at 8:54 PM

      everyone should have to explain why they go to philly.

      • nhlbruins90 - Jul 2, 2011 at 10:56 PM

        Zing!

    • stixzidinia - Jul 4, 2011 at 4:48 PM

      Because going to Philly just isn’t something a rational human does……not if that person wants a shot at the bling.

  6. chrispel78 - Jul 2, 2011 at 9:10 PM

    funniest part about Jagr’s “left handed” comments are that his center for most of his Penguins years was Ron Francis, a defensive minded 6’3″ lefty.

    and as for an honest assessment of the flyers choices:

    if Jagr had joined the flyers, as their lineup stood 10 days ago, it would be scary. he could let carter or richards eat up the hard minutes, and he could finish, it would have been much the same had he joined pittsburgh, with Staal(a defensive minded, 6’4″ lefty) pivoting between him and Malkin.

    he would have been a good fit in detroit also, for example, replacing cleary with zetterberg and franzen, think how scary that 3-some would be knowing that Jagr can finish at least twice as often as Daniel “i missed the open net from between the circles” Cleary.

    but instead, he’s going to a team that just got RID of their captain and 2 of their leading scorers. and is full of aging veterans like 36 yr old Pronger, Briere, 33, Lapierrie, 36, Lilja, 35, Shelley, 35, Timonen, 36

    • trigzter - Jul 3, 2011 at 9:33 PM

      your philly example sounds cool and all, but the flyers wouldn’t have had cap space for jagr if they didnt make those trades. And i don’t know why you bother listing their “aging” vets, while including shelley, laperriere, and lilja. Shelley won’t be a flyer, lappy will be LTIR, and lilja was a cheap replacement for o’donnell.

      • chrispel78 - Jul 3, 2011 at 11:19 PM

        why bother? because they are aging vets. Shelley may be gone soon, but he’s a Flyer right now and under contract for 2 more seasons. the really odd thing about the flyers roster is the lack of guys in their prime ages(27-31), there are only a couple guys on their roster at that age, most of the team is under 25 or over 33. that’s great if you want to grow to be a contender in the future, but Jagr’s going to want to win now, or he’s going to give up and quit playing hard.

        as for the example for the flyers:

        the money saved trading richards and carter was wiped out by signing breezy(not even gonna try and spell it right now), Lilja, Talbot and the cap hits for the players they acquired in return for those 2 guys. in other words. Jagr’s contract was above and beyond that money. so yes, you COULD have had Jagr and Carter and Richards, if you just put a little faith in the 2010 playoff GAA leader who had 3 playoff shutouts that year(leighton) or given Bobrovsky a shot to grow, the kid’s only 22(prior to age 26, breezy had 2 NHL games with 1 win). what if Pittsburgh gave up on Fleury when he struggled early on? but instead, your GM had to go out and blow up the team so he can acquire a good (in the regular season) aging(but still in his prime, 31) goaltender who struggles in the playoffs. the last 2 years breezy is 3-8 with a 3.44 GAA and a 4.36 GAA. and his playoff GAA has gotten steadily worse each year as he went from backup to starter, 1.46, then 2.25 the years before the previous two.

        for reference, leighton was 2.46 last year, Bob was 3.23 this year in the playoffs.

        but, if you really insist on getting Breezy, you could have still kept ONE of those 2 centers(afterall, only ONE center can play with Jagr at a time), gotten Breezy, and gotten Jagr. or better yet, gotten rid of one of those 2 centers, NOT gotten breezy, and spent that $5M on getting a young(er) defender who could help out (or two), like Ian White, randy jones(again) and Cam barker, all 3 of them = about $5M.

      • trigzter - Jul 4, 2011 at 1:58 AM

        not sure how much flyers hockey you actually watch to make these bold claims. Leighton…are you kidding? We gave him a shot in the playoffs, and his terrible 3.43 GAA just wasn’t cutting it. And uh…theres a big difference between bob and MAF. Before this season, no one even knew who bob was. MAF? well he got selected 1st overall in the 2003 draft. no way you can even compare the two.

        Bob can’t speak english, was it not smart to bring in a solid goalie in bryz, who speaks fluent russian, to help bob out with his game?

        And to assist you in getting your facts straight, Jagr was a replacement for Leino, and had nothing to do with the carter and richards trades. And I guess your idea makes perfect sense right…when we have over 20 million in cap already alligated towards defensemen, we should drop another 3-5 million on another defenseman, leaving them with 32 million to sign 12 forwards.

        Thank god your not a GM

      • chrispel78 - Jul 4, 2011 at 2:18 PM

        “We gave him a shot in the playoffs, and his terrible 3.43 GAA just wasn’t cutting it.”

        and Bryz’s 3.44 GAA is better? and, giving a guy a start and getting shut out 1-0, then repeatedly pulling every goalie over and over every period isn’t “giving someone a shot”.

        “And uh…theres a big difference between bob and MAF. Before this season, no one even knew who bob was. ”

        and by “no one” i’ll assume you’re excluding the flyers staff, who were considering drafting him, but didn’t because of the lack of a transfer agreement with russia not guaranteeing that he would ever show up. did you know Malkin had to steal his passport back from magnatigorsk while on a road trip to western europe and sneak away from the team after missing an entire year? yeah, after seeing pittsburgh go through all that, the flyers were a little uneasy about drafting russians under certain circumstances.

        “Bob can’t speak english, was it not smart to bring in a solid goalie in bryz, who speaks fluent russian, to help bob out with his game? ”

        Fleury didn’t speak english, and still is horrible at it. there are plenty of other russian speaking CHEAP players in the league, spending $5.67M on a translator is a horrible idea.

        as for your next comments, are you arguing with me, or yourself?

        you say: “And to assist you in getting your facts straight, Jagr was a replacement for Leino, and had nothing to do with the carter and richards trades. ”

        you said: “your philly example sounds cool and all, but the flyers wouldn’t have had cap space for jagr if they didnt make those trades.”

        which is it? cause once you figure out which position you support, i’ll let you know if we disagree or not.

        “when we have over 20 million in cap already alligated towards defensemen, we should drop another 3-5 million on another defenseman, leaving them with 32 million to sign 12 forwards.”

        alligated? did they reach out and snatch it with their arms on a sort of chomping motion or what?

        well, since that was my third(though better than 2nd) option, behind keeping both richards and carter, and adding jagr.

        “Thank god your not a GM”

        i know, what a horrible idea it is to spend that much $ on D, but since your GM already did it, i was just trying to allocate it better, instead of blowing all $5.67M on one guy* who has a rep as a head case** and leaving him hung out to dry when the mid-30’s defensive core gets tired in the 3rd and in march/april, i was suggesting getting three solid guys in the prime of their careers, who would make every goalie behind them look better. you don’t even need to get all 3 d-men, you could get two, and spend the rest on a decent forward, but your GM likely would have blown that $ on Max Talbot and his 20 goals over the last 2 seasons.

        *one guy that is apparently mostly going to be a translator/coach?
        **last time he didn’t like the situation, he threatened to go back to the KHL, now you have that guy influencing your young stud goaltender, AND Jagr who can say “oh, sure, KHL not bad”

  7. nhlbruins90 - Jul 2, 2011 at 11:01 PM

    Well, the opening night of the NHL 2011-12 season should be even better now. That’s Boston-Philly in Boston, as we raise the banner. He’ll be in the Winter Classic too.

  8. stairwayto7 - Jul 3, 2011 at 1:12 AM

    I guess he does nto want a Stanley Cup so sign with the Flyers..its only been 30 plus years!!!

  9. johninpa - Jul 3, 2011 at 11:25 AM

    Personally, I like the way it finished for the Pens. It looks like Tyler Kennedy’s signing hinged on whether Jagr came to Pittsburgh or not. I’ll take Kennedy. He just came off his best season and seems to get better and better. He could be a solid player for the Pens for years, instead of a one and done with Jagr.

  10. tk1966 - Jul 3, 2011 at 2:07 PM

    “For some melodramatic Penguins fans, it probably looked more like one of those scenes in a movie in which a character drops to his or her knees, screams “Whyyyyy?!?!” ”

    Why is it being portrayed that the entire Penguins fanbase is in some sort of heart-wrenching anguish over this signing? The general feeling is that we do think of how Jagr went about things was kinda a dick move. However, we also feel that the Pens made a fair offer, and it would have been nice to see him back in Pittsburgh to mend some bridges and help win some games. But, not at the expense of overpaying or catering to a prima donna. This is what the Flyers have done, so best of luck to them in this mistake. Disappointed it didn’t work out (on our terms, not his)? Sure. Ready to jump off the 6th street bridge? Far from it.

    • tk1966 - Jul 3, 2011 at 2:11 PM

      Oh, and don’t forget, the Flyers didn’t sign him out from under the Penguins. the Pens had already pulled their offer – they had essentially said “we’ve made an offer, you haven’t agreed to it, we’re moving on”.

  11. stixzidinia - Jul 4, 2011 at 4:55 PM

    Pens fans wanted Jagr back more out of novelty. More out of wanting to forgive one of the greatest hockey players in the city’s history. We didn’t want him because we thought a 40 year old would be any kind of difference maker. We knew that not to be the case. At least an aging Bill Guerin was a great character and locker room guy and a key piece to that championship season. Jagr is niether. I’d say the vast majority of the Pens fanbase is already over the Jagr nonsense.Philly is a far worse team today than they were a couple of weeks ago, and it will be fun watching the train wreck this year.

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