Monday, 14 March 2016

Jaromir Jagr wanted to play in Montréal? Really wanted?

This whole meme of Jaromir Jagr wanting to play in Montréal, but being thwarted by short-sighted GM Marc Bergevin, that's going to be the particular windmill I tilt at for the next while.

Jaromir Jagr might have expressed a lot of things, but he demonstrated a desire to play for the highest bidder.

2012: Jaromir Jagr expresses a desire to return to the NHL, to his roots in Pittsburgh, where he still maintains a house, he's eager to point out.  He avows so much admiration for Pens' owner Mario Lemieux, he states he's willing to sign a minimum deal there.

They reportedly strike a deal and set up a press conference, but the day of, he's nowhere to be found, his agent can't reach him on the phone, rumours pop up about Philadelphia, and it turns out that he signed a deal with the Penguins' archrival Flyers.  For a few dollars more.

The next day, Jaromir doesn't face the Pittsburgh press, but rather does a phone conference, and explains that he feels uncomfortable speaking English, that's why he's on the phone rather than in person.  He'd forgotten to speak the language in the three years he's spent in Omsk.

That spring, he helps the Flyers eliminate the Penguins in that series when Sidney Crosby was pre-concussated by Claude Giroux for Brandon Dubinsky's future use.

2013:  During his stay in Philly, Jaromir waxed elegiac, in Vincent Lecavalier fashion, about how great the city was, the organization, his teammates, how he fit in so well.

That summer, he signed as a free agent in Dallas.  For a few dollars more.  But he expressed how invigorating it was to play with so many young players, have a chance to mentor youngsters, build something.

He's shipped out at the deadline, as a mercenary, to Boston.

2014:  Although he'd expressed a willingness to return to Dallas, and then to re-sign in Boston and have a chance at a Stanley Cup, Jaromir signs with the bottom-feeding Devils, for $4M.

When Jaromir Jagr speaks about his desire to play/sign a contract somewhere, he's acting as his own tout, his own auctioneer, driving up the price.  Montréal was another salary-cap strapped pawn he was trying to entice into the game, to create a market.  Thankfully, Pierre Gauthier and later Marc Bergevin never played that game.

Jaromir as the supremely-talented grand old dame of the game is a really cool story, I don't begrudge him his extended turn in the spotlight, but as far as him expressing interest in signing a contract here, I trust him as far as I can throw him when he's all slicked down with sweat from those 1 AM workouts and laden down with those weighted vests and his pockets full of Vegas poker chips.

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