Burton: Don’t Blame Jagr

BY:Jonathan Burton

I have to admit I was shocked to hear that Jaromir Jagr turned down the Penguins’ one-year offer only to ink a deal with the hated Philadelphia Flyers.  But then I thought about it, and I decided one thing: Jagr would have done what anyone else would do.

I know Penguin fans are upset with No. 68 for leaving them at the altar to go play for their bitter, heated rival.  But, fans have to realize that Jagr took the best offer available and he shouldn’t be criticized for it.  He’s going to a team that has a chance to win, and he’ll be making more money.  One local columnist opined that with all the money Jagr’s made in his illustrious hockey career, he shouldn’t have spurned the Penguins for a difference of $1.3 million.  I say: Who are we to tell someone how much money they should take?  What business is it of ours to dictate where someone should play and for how much money?  Isn’t that while we call it FREE agency? (See: James, LeBron)

Jagr is going to a place where he has a chance to win, and he’ll make more money. It’s a no brainer. If a company offers you $50,000 a year to stay with them, but another company offers $80,000, guess what?  You would be on the next thing smoking to the better offer.  It works the same in sports.  Sure, Jagr said all the right things: “It’s not about the money. I would play for the league minimum just to have a chance to join Mario Lemieux’s team once again.”  But, Jagr’s a proud man, and the Flyers were able to pony up more cash, it’s as simple as that.

If you’re getting set to boo Jagr when he, Max Talbot and the Flyers come to Consol Energy Center Dec. 29, have at it.  But, to blame him for signing with the Flyers is simply irrational.

  • Kristin

    Irrational? Penguin fans didn’t just dream up the idea of him coming back on their own. Jagr led them to that belief. Saying he’d play for the league min and wanted to play for his mentor Mario, etc. It’s not about him choosing someone else, it’s how he went about it. If he’d been up front and said, I don’t know where I want to play, so we’ll see who give the best offer, it would be a different story. After the way he left Pittsburgh, he owed us some honesty this time around. Before calling the fans irrational, you may want to actually talk to a few.

    • Jagr who

      If your scared…rescue a dog!

  • Matt

    Are you an idiot? Did you follow the story at all!?Jagr said he owed his Career to Mario, said he would play for League Minimum. Jagr said his “Heart was in Pittsburgh”. He supposedly talked to Mario and led him to believe he’d be there on Thursday or Friday, so much so that a Celebration/Greeting was planned in the Locker Room for his arrival! He’s made $101 Million in the League, to include $50 Million from the Penguins. He didn’t do what “anyone of us would do”. He did what Jagr always does and he is a moron for it and his Legacy in Pittsburgh is forever destroyed.

  • Kurt

    I have to agree with JB here. There is no room for fans to blame Jagr for fan disappointment after he made another money grab. He did it to legions of NHL fans across the continent when he left the NHL for Russia three years ago.

    And after all, Ray Shero DID pull the offer off the table BEFORE Jagr decided to sign elsewhere (thank goodness, in my opinion).

    This is not to say Jagr doesn’t deserve every throaty boo he receives when he plays in Pittsburgh. He absolutely does deserve to be booed. But the blame for disappointment here goes to all the naive Penguins fans who so vehemently argued that Jagr had “matured” or “changed.” There never was any chance of that hope becoming reality.

    But there is comfort for those of you who feel jilted. I was a native Pittsburgher stranded in Philadelphia for 10 years for work, up until last year. I saw first hand how Phlyers phans managed to boo Daniel Briere, Jeff Carter, and every goaltender since Ron Hextall when they went through even the slightest performance slumps. Jagr is going to be an enormous disappointment in terms of offensive productivity, and he will ultimately get booed across the entire state, whether he’s wearing a home or away jersey.

    • Mike

      Shero PULLED the offer when it was apparent that Jagr was up to his same old tricks.

      In the long run it will be the best move he will make for the 2011-12 season..

  • William K

    Somethings never Change Jagr. The Flyers.. The Flyers.. Really??? I feel Bad for Mario. I will be in the front Row booing him. I’ll start now. BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. I Blame Jagr.

  • David

    How about having some class and not dissapearing for two days. If he wanted more money he should have asked for more money. He is a child for being unreachable for two days in the middle of someting that wasn’t supposed to be a bidding war.

    He is a clown.

  • Dave

    One out of two is not bad. He is going to make more money but with the Flyers off season moves if you are indicating they are a better team because of these changes I believe you are mistaken. Jon I think the other factor you are not considering is what Jagr has said in the past. He would play for league min salary for Mario has done for him. If he had said at the beginning I am coming back to the highest bidder and if the Pens cap space excluded them then so be it. I would speculate the fans would have given him a pass – even to the Flyers. So his spurning of the Pens is rational given the situation he created.

  • Quagmire

    You’re missing the point badly here, Jon. While your argument about WHY Jagr signed with the Flyers is valid, it’s what he said that has people fuming. Ray Shero said the Thursday before Jagr signed with Philadelphia that his agent said that “his (Jagr) heart was in Pittsburgh.” There were other times Jagr was quoted as saying he “owed Mario (Lemieux) his hockey life” and “I want to pay him back because he has made me what I am.”

    Does Jagr deserved to be blamed for taking a higher offer and signing with Philadelphia? No. But does he deserve to be blamed for how he handled the situation?…. ABSOLUTELY.

    Well respected Trib writers Rob Rossi and Dejan Kovacevic both reported that Lemieux and Shero were furious when Jagr decided not to sign a contract with the belief that a verbal agreement was in place. Lemieux and Shero don’t get upset for nothing.

    So please, PLEASE don’t be silly and act like Jagr did nothing wrong. THAT is simply irrational.

  • Jeeperz

    I dont blame Jagr at all. Everyone knows that in this town people want to always live in the glory days. If Jagr would have signed, people would have expected him to be a 40-goal guy otherwise all we’d be hearing is “Jagr isnt living up to his expectations”. He was definitely damned if does…damned if he doesnt. Im actually glad he signed somewhere else.

    As for Max leaving to goto Philly? Good luck and thank you!. We’ll miss you!

  • Raul

    Hey JB, were they your 2 boys cleaning up by the river today?? Keep writing stupid articles like this and you will be joining them soon.

    • Carolina Yankee

      …were they cleaning up your mess, Raul? Shame on you.

  • oneWhoknows

    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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