PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – With the NHL season in full swing, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Philadelphia Flyers are once again battling it out for Atlantic Division supremacy.
The Flyers overhauled their roster over the summer and brought back a familiar face in the form of Jaromir Jagr.
Jagr skating in the NHL is not a complete surprise, but his decision to join the Flyers annoyed Penguins fans and management.
Back on July 2, it seemed like a done deal. Jagr was supposedly on his way back to Pittsburgh to complete some unfinished business.
However, many people think he used the Penguins’ offer as leverage to get a better offer from Philadelphia.
Bob Pompeani: Did you have conversations with Mario about returning [to Pittsburgh]?
Jagr: I talked to Mario once on the phone. But I know a lot of people are probably mad about my decision. But, I felt like the management didn’t really want me. I think the fans [made them make] the offer. That’s the way I felt. If I was wrong, I apologize, but that’s the way I felt.
Pompeani: Did you ever get an offer from the Penguins?
Jagr: Yes, I did.
Pompeani: A lot of people back in Pittsburgh think you may have used that offer to get a better offer.
Jagr: I can tell you one thing. The offer I got from the Penguins was probably the smallest offer. There [were] three bigger offers than the Flyers. I decided to come back to the NHL. If I wanted to make money I would stay in Russia because I would get [double what I’m getting] here, plus tax free. But, I wanted to play [in the NHL]. I had the feeling again, I don’t know what, but I had the feeling I wanted to come back. I want to try it again. I want to prove [to] myself that I can still play. I thought I can have the best chance to play hockey [in Philadelphia], not just sit around.
My first question when I was talking to [Pittsburgh General Manager Ray Shero] I asked, make sure [Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin] are okay with me to be on a team. That’s very important to me because I don’t want to go to a team where the top guys [are not] going to feel comfortable with me in the lineup. That was the first question, and he can. I wanted to know if [they were okay] with that.
Pompeani: When you come back, what are you looking forward to? What do you think the fans will do when you step on the ice for the first time?
Jagr: Of course, they are going to boo me, maybe 10 times more than before. It’s fine with me. They paid the tickets, they can do whatever they want. But on the other side, I think the fans [who are]going to boo me, they [weren’t] the fans when I played there. A lot of younger guys don’t even know how I [played] over there. They can hear something, but they were probably kids. But, it’s fine with me. It’s okay.
Jagr will get to face the fans in Pittsburgh for the first time this season on Dec. 29.