Shea-ved Ice: Money Still Matters To Jagr

By: Casey Shea

Some things never change do they?

As part of his departure from the Pittsburgh Penguins, Jaromir Jagr noted that it wasn’t about the money.

Whether the media blew his exodus from Pittsburgh out of proportion or not, the way Jagr left Pittsburgh left many fans with feelings of disdain.

Many of those same fans relentlessly booed him when he returned to the Igloo as a member of the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers.

After he left the NHL and went to Russia three years ago, the rumors had been running rampant that he would make his glorious return to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A funny thing happened at this point. It was as if his indication of a return to Pittsburgh was the closest thing to an apology that Pens fans would get.

People started to warm up to the idea of seeing No. 68 wearing the black and gold again and many either forgot or forgave him for what previously transpired.

Two years ago, he said he would come back to the Penguins and play for the league minimum as a favor to Mario Lemieux. Ill admit I was a little excited about that.

When it didn’t happen, I learned to not get my hopes up when it comes to Jagr.

Last week, I detailed out my reasons for not wanting Jagr to come back to this team and took a little heat for it.

That’s all well and good and everyone is entitled to their opinions. That is what makes being a fan so great. Everyone has different reasons for liking or disliking a certain player and the concept of right and wrong is in the eye of the beholder.

However, if we flash-forward to what transpired on Friday, I’m fairly certain we’ll all be in agreement.

The last two weeks or so have been nothing short of a media circus surrounding Jagr.

Where will he sign? Where in the world is he?

Seriously, in a few years no one will believe you when you tell them Jagr’s supposed decision day was delayed by turtles on the runway at JFK Airport in New York.

Everyone was on edge waiting for the news that the man who sported one of, if not the finest, mullets in sports historywas coming home.

But, the news didn’t come until Friday afternoon and no one could have expected what happened.

The crew on TSN state that Jaromir Jagr had signed a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers.

I didn’t think that my dislike of Jagr could rise beyond where it was, but he found a way to prove me wrong. Again.

My first reaction to seeing the news was outright laughter. After leading the Penguins and their fans on during Jagr Watch, he pulls the rug out and signs with the team’s top rival.

Over the past couple of seasons, much has been made about the Capitals and Penguins being fierce rivals. I’ve always felt the Caps were number two on the list behind Philly and now, there’s no debating it.

Words can’t even properly describe what Jagr just pulled off. This wasn’t just a low blow, it was almost heinous.

The announcement skyrocketed him up the ladder of most hated men in Pittsburgh sports at an alarming rate.

Throughout the process, he kept saying how he wanted to return to Pittsburgh and even reportedly got Mario Lemieux involved in the conversation.

His agent even said Jagr’s heart lies in Pittsburgh.

It looked like a lock. A one-year $2 million deal was on the table. All he had to do was pick up the pen and sign it.

“It’s not about the money.”

Once again, that statement proved to be false. His agent, Petr Svoboda, alleges that Jagr turned down a one-year $6 million deal from another team.

He uses this point as a way to prove that money wasn’t a motivating factor here. However, he fails to mention which team made such a ludicrous offer.

I’m going to assume that it was a team that Jagr felt was not a contender to win the Stanley Cup.

It sounds like he started a bidding war among Stanley Cup contending teams. While money may not have been the sole factor, you cannot tell me that it wasn’t very important to him.

It’s always been important to him.

Just when you thought the Penguins/Flyers rivalry couldn’t get more intense, Jagr happens.

However, this may be one of the few times in recorded history that fans of both teams are in agreement.

Flyers fans I know were in total disbelief over signing Jagr. Mainly because of the $3.3 million the club would be paying him.

I’m already looking forward to when he steps foot in Pittsburgh again on Dec. 29, when the Flyers make their first trip to town this season.

If he thought he got booed hard before, just wait until that night. If you don’t attend the game, you should still be able to hear the booing within a 10-mile radius of the arena.

The decision to sign in Philly has not only angered an entire fanbase again, but it’s tarnished the once-great legacy he had here.

The script was perfectly written for him.

He would come back to Pittsburgh, finish his NHL career where it all began and eventually his jersey would be retired.

Now, I don’t think we’ll ever see No. 68 raised to the rafters.

How must Lemieux feel right now? To be told that Jagr wants to come back out of respect to the greatest player to ever play the game, only to be snubbed for the Flyers? Are you kidding me?

He didn’t just burn every bridge he had left in this city, he nuked them.

Until yesterday, I was still mildly upset over the whole Marian Hossa fiasco during the summer of 2008.

What Jagr did yesterday has made me completely forget about that. Again, I didn’t even want Jagr back to begin with, but what he did doesn’t sit right with me on a variety of moral levels.

It’s almost as if he used the Pens as a pawn to garner a larger payout. Apparently Jagr doesn’t care about the past, he only cares about the here and now.

He’ll continually say that it wasn’t about money and rather the make-up of the roster and the team’s chances of winning.

However, I think he’s fully proven that his words hold no weight and he doesn’t fully mean anything that he says.

All this has shown is that he’s only loyal to himself…and the almighty dollar.

Nice to see you’ve changed Jagr. See you in December.

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One Comment

  1. T4 says:

    I am relieves to know Jagr will not be returning to Pittsburgh & The Penguins. Young players such as Crosby, Malkin, as well as the rest of the entire team do not need him as a role model. They have Lemieux, and THANK GOODNESS for that! I was happy when he left the first time, & I am even more excited to know he WILL NOT be returning! Great article by the way!

  2. overrated says:

    I am in agreement with T4 here…Jagr may have been a great player here but let us not forget that he NEVER won the Cup unless he was carrying Marios jock..

    Another thing is that he may not even be around come December 29th…The Flyers fans will turn on him so fast if he doesnt produce for the money he is getting paid..He will come up with the mysterious hammy injury..

    There was NOT a team that offered him 6 mil…If there was and it becomes public who it was that GM will be fired on the spot for such a stupid offer..

  3. Robert Whilham says:

    Apparently Jagr is planning on his future life as a politician, because he says everything they want to hear , who is listening to him.. To bad he is not a natural born american or he could run for president!!!!!! I hope his eardrums hurt when he comes to Pittsburgh in December from all the boos he recieves

  4. johnny69 says:

    I would love it if Mario would go public with his TRUE feelings, hoping that he would blast Jagr. Right now Jagre has made Mario look like a fool, and I don’t like it one bit.

  5. LoneStarsFanatic says:

    So, he specifically mentioned his team in the KHL and a $4 million dollar deal (which makes sense since he was already making $5 mil), but he didn’t mention any teams.

    He specifically mentioned that he’d only spoken to Mario once since he left the NHL; and he didn’t promise anyone anything, but he apparently promised the moon.

    His agent was even denying for several days that an agreement was in place, but the truth has never stopped the Pittsburgh media from running a sensationalist story, so why should it have now?

    The reason I doubt money was the ultimate factor is that, indeed, Jaromir has made over $100 million in his hockey career and an extra $1.3 million probably wasn’t going to make or break the bank (with or without withstanding IRS or gambling debts). In fact, going to the Penguins may have been the more lucrative move in the end as it could have resulted in easier endorsement deals (the Penguins are a much more-televised and hyped team than the Flyers, not to mention local endorsement deals pandering to the nostalgia of Pittsburgh fans that would be absent in Philadelphia) and possibly even a position among the team’s staff post-retirement along with public appearances, etc. Further, Jaromir is said to still own a home in the Pittsburgh area that I’d like to believe is probably also worth a pretty penny. Selling it in this market right now might not prove all that of a worthwhile venture. But, I digress…

    It’s obvious to me his decision was over ice-time more than anything, which isn’t that hard to deduce. If you knew you only had but one more year left to do what you’d loved, you’d do anything to cling to every last second of it like grim death.

    If you read the full transcript of what he said today, it’s actually hard to come away without the sense that this man is far more intelligent and mature than most give him credit for – certainly far more mature than the people in Pittsburgh who booed him while he still donned the black and gold. Think back to Game 4 against the Devils in 2001. Imagine, you’re injured, but don’t want to say because you know you’re still more talented than 90% of the team anyways and don’t feel like giving other teams something to exploit. You’ve been team captain for four seasons, posting incredible numbers. You hit a slump, and your teammate and former idol, who ISN’T captain, but somehow owns you, and wasn’t even around for half of the season, slams you in the press. The whole city turns against you; the Pittsburgh press, as usual, goes to town on you, while you can barely read and understand the language as it is; and then the city boos you during your last game on home ice after everything you’ve done for them. All of this at age 28. A lot of you would completely fly off the loop. (Oh, and the city and their press has the nerve to say “We’ll forgive YOU.”)

    Honestly, I have to wonder if people in Pittsburgh are even bothering to read what Jagr had to say today. And given that the Pittsburgh media has zero interest in fact-checking, I won’t be wondering very long.

    1. Bill says:

      Awesome, You nailed it. I’m from the Pittsburgh area, always enjoyed JAGR when he was here, but there is no City in the world where you can go from hero to zero faster than Pittsburgh. The media and the fans are relentless.

      1. LoneStarsFanatic says:

        Thank you! Glad someone appreciated it!

    2. Anonymous says:

      I appreciate the links to articles giving us a fuller, less emotionally-charged picture of both sides of the story which were out there in pretty plain view. (Shame on you, Casey Shea, for your manipulation of the story out of context just to incite us and support your position.) I’m a non-fair-weathered Penguin fan and former season ticket holder (1983-1994) and I remember how Jagr left and you are right, we surely can hold our grudges…sometimes…but that is not unlike any big sports city. Pittsburgh is also true-blue in many ways. (Just look at how we hang in there believing in our Pirates.) I’m sure the news of Jagr’s signing with the Filthydelphia Flyers (of ALL teams) on the heels of Max Talbot’s defection there is an extra sting to Penguin fans everywhere, and we’re just reacting with hatred and disdain because it’s fresh and painful, but in time, the true Penguin fans – the ones who loved the Pens when they didn’t have any Cups and hadn’t yet heard of Mario Lemieux – will not let these hurts taint the memories of what the Jaromir Jagrs and Max Talbots have helped bring us in the past. The fact is, time marches on and players who are nearing the end of their playing careers have to do what’s best for them in so many ways. The rest of us who won’t or don’t forgive and forget probably weren’t true blue Penguin fans in the first place. LoneStarsFanatic, your post helped me get over this one quickly, and I thank you.

  6. Iliketurtles says:

    Just laugh it off pens fans. Jagr’s head is too big for his wallet. This is all about money. He’s flat out lying about ice time, left/right handed, and not talking to Mario since he left the NHL, regardless of what his pr is trying to spin (lonestarsfanatic). He’s kind of like a distant relative you keep inviting to thanksgiving dinner but they never show up. But now we’re keen to your antics and your not welcome in this house anymore. This is it for Jagr and personally I’m glad he’s going out in Philly. We have a new generation of superstars and the nostalgia of the Mario/jagr era is best left in the past.

    1. LoneStarsFanatic says:

      Laughing it off is certainly a good idea for dealing with the disappointment – a very healthy one, actually!

      But, though the idea that this was all about money might feel like a nice thought for Pens fans, it simply isn’t supported by the facts or logic (see my paragraph addressing this above). Again, when you read the full transcript and interviews from his past (keep in mind also that this isn’t his first language) you can see that he is quite intelligent. The extra money he could have made through other means as a Penguin would likely have crossed his mind and certainly his agent’s.

      While none of us can really speak to how often he has spoken to Mario, I have yet to see any evidence that the reclusive Mario had spoken to him more than the one time we are now aware of. Regarding ice time, his arguments are well-founded. And bear in mind that on the Wednesday when Jaromir was supposedly traveling, the Penguins also signed RW Pascal Dupuis, who typically plays first line to Sidney Crosby. The Flyers, on the other hand, are need of some good forwards right now.

      The “all about money” argument feels very good to Penguins fans because it deflects blame from the fans who booed him while he was here and all those who abandoned him. After all, once he left, the team saw their darkest years. Penguins fans should really take pause for a minute and consider that, maybe, just this one time, they went too far. Jaromir Jagr might just be a monster of their own creation.

      And, it certainly is a great excuse now for the Pittsburgh media that couldn’t wait to sell everyone the story that he was coming back for sure. Rather than admit their mistake, they’d rather throw every accusation in the book at him to deflect attention from how foolish THEY look right now.

      And, while he might not be welcome here now, he wasn’t really welcome during his final moments here, either. The man wants to make people happy, he said. Just coming back to Pittsburgh would not have been enough and Penguins fans know it. If the Penguins didn’t win the Cup this year, who do you think Pittsburgh fans would have been the first to blame? He’s clearly sensitive to pressure and accusations of not-being-worth-the-money. Why not wear the rival jersey? The chances were pretty good he was going to get booed either way. It happened once.

      But, you are correct. The Penguins DO have another generation of superstars to look forward to. And the “era that was” probably IS better left in the past. It’s time for everyone to move on, including Jaromir. Let’s do as Ray Shero did and wish him the best.

      Sidenote: I’m flattered that you thought I was a part of his PR! Am I really THAT good at this? (Though, again, PR is costly and if he were truly all about money, he wouldn’t care to waste it on…ah, nevermind. 🙂 )


  7. KKnox says:

    Now that Jagr’s legacy in Pittsburgh is dead,, maybe the team should wear “68” patches on their uniforms.

  8. OneWhoKnows says:

    Look, NO ONE knows the real story behind his leaving/being traded the first time. Common sense tells you there are always two sides to everything and I hate to tell you Mario is NO ANGEL in this scenario. He is as crafty and back stabbing as the rest of them. Everyone is in a fog when it come to him like he is GOD. Lemieux did his part back then to cause distention it is just you guys don’t know the other side.
    True, I was excited to think he may end his career here but looking at it realistically how could he? what part would he play? what line would he play? Mario told him their formula is not going to change. So what? he should just ‘fit it’ so he could retire there? You’re talking about someone who has pride and deep sense of competition. Maybe his words were not lies, but just realization they did not have a place for him.
    And BOO him all you want….makes no difference to him, He is the type of person that if you do that it makes him play even HARDER- yes….it just motivates him MORE!

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