Hathhorn: A Shot of Jagr, No Ice
By: Jeff Hathhorn
I want to see Jaromir Jagr back for the Pens alumni golf outing. I want to see No. 68 retired, but I don’t want Jagr on the ice.
Jagr is not the same player he once was and we saw a potential preview with the disappointing return of another 100-point Penguin this spring in Alexei Kovalev. In case you forgot, people fell all over themselves to praise Ray Shero for bringing an old sniper back. The deal was worth the risk, but Kovy was a minus 3 in 7 playoff games and had 2 goals in 20 games in the regular season and had as much chemistry with his teammates as Rashard Mendenhall would right now in Paris Island.
The 39-year-old Jagr does not have a contract next year and has played the last three years in Russia and would not rule out a chance to come back to the NHL. Pens GM Ray Shero mentioned him Tuesday as one of the three great Penguins and there are plans to invite him to the team’s golf outing celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first Stanley Cup. Jagr said he still has something left and fell all over himself praising Pittsburgh and Mario Lemieux-much as he told the Pittsburgh media before his final game in the NHL with the Rangers.
Jagr has a pair of goals and three assists before his meeting with the United States on Wednesday. He has 1,599 points in his NHL career and you can dream about him teaming on a line with Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin. The reality would be the nightmare of Jagr not fitting in as a role player and often getting frustrated with a lack of scoring, trapping defenses and lack of communication with players 15 years his junior.
Jagr is the second best player in Pens history, he’s a big reason they won two Stanley Cups and is the main reason they were competitive at all in the mid-to-late 90s. Steelers GM Tom Donahoe once said about bringing old players back, “We’re not the Salvation Army.” Armies/teams are built by men in their teens and twenties, not by those a few months shy of 40.
Let’s hang Jagr’s jersey from the rafters, not a locker.