“It was never our intention to get involved in a free agent bidding war, and we have to focus on our team,” Penguins general manager Ray Shero said regarding Jagr.
Jaromir Jagr will skate in Pittsburgh next season, but it won’t be for the Penguins. The 39-year old winger has signed a one-year $3.3 million deal with the Philadelphia Flyers.
The term “heel” gets thrown around in sports far too often. Even more so following the events surrounding and actions of NBA superstar LeBron James over the last year. James is considered perhaps the biggest heel in North American professional sports because of the way he handled his own free agency “decision” , and subsequent rocky migration from Cleveland to Miami last summer – and his apparent complete lack of self awareness certainly doesn’t help his public perception either. The problem I have with the notion of James as a heel is that he genuinely seems to have no idea of how his actions could have been damaging to his character. LeBron James held an ESPN special to announce his own signing because LeBron James truly believed that’s what the people would want, he failed to recognize the pompousness of it. That’s how he is.
Now Jaromir Jagr… that guy knows how to complete a heel turn. Jagr and his agent, Petr Svoboda, ignited a frenzy of nostalgia in Pittsburgh when it was announced he’d be trekking halfway across the world to make a decision on whether or not he would return to the NHL with the Penguins. We knew there were other teams in the mix, Detroit had expressed interest and rumblings had surfaced that Montreal may have been in pursuit of the Czech winger as well. Alas, the Penguins pulled their offer for Jagr as the realization that they were a pawn in a greater plan had kicked in. No 68 in Pittsburgh.
The picture in Philadelphia just becomes all the more confusing with the addition of Jaromir Jagr. The surprising trades of Jeff Carter and Mike Richards cleared a lot of cap space for the Flyers, which they quickly used a significant portion of to ink Ilya Bryzgalov. It’s difficult to fathom Jagr picking up the production of either of Carter or Richards. The Jagr signing is a huge risk by Paul Holmgren, it’s a lot of money for a near 40-year old that hasn’t played in the NHL since the 2007-08 season.
Clearly, for Jagr, it was all about the money. It probably wasn’t his intention to turn heel on Penguins fans, but he’s done a remarkable job of damning his name in the city of Pittsburgh for all eternity.