Friday, 1 July 2011

How To Lose Friends And Alienate People

The whirlwind tour is over, and all that's left is to count the greenbacks. I'm quite certain that's what Jaromir Jagr and his agent, Petr Svoboda, are doing today after signing a one-year deal with the Philadelphia Flyers to become possibly the most hated man in hockey. Forget booing Gary Bettman in Pittsburgh - Jaromir Jagr went from potential hero in the city to public enemy numero uno after jerking around the Penguins for the last few days. Not only did the Penguins get stiffed by Jagr, but I'm quite certain that the Red Wings, Canadiens, and Rangers were in that mix of teams that had their chains yanked by Svoboda and Jagr. Personally, as a Penguins fan, I'm steamed.

I wanted Jagr back to help Malkin become a better player. I wanted Jagr back to help pick up the middle-of-the-pack powerplay where he could have been a dynamite offensive player alongside Crosby. I wanted him back for his veteran leadership. Jagr in a Penguins uniform would erase the 2001 hatred that still lingered simply because he expressed a desire to "come home".

Today, I want him to pay.

Of all the teams that former Penguins players can go to, the Philadelphia Flyers would be considered the biggest kick to the groin that one can give to Penguins fans, especially for those players that flirt with the hearts of the fans that loyally supported them for so long. To Penguins fans, the Flyers are the like the Yankees to the people of Boston - you simply do not cross that line. Doing so will result in hatred for all eternity. Jaromir Jagr officially crossed that line today when he agreed to join the Flyers.

Et tu, Brute? Is this how it feels to be stabbed in the back while have the knife turned? Benedict Arnold has more fans than Jagr does right now in Pittsburgh. Judas Iscariot is hailed as a saint in Pittsburgh when compared to Jaromir Jagr. Brett Favre to Minnesota is probably a good comparison to what Jagr has done. The word "traitor" simply doesn't have enough vitriol to do justice when talking about Jagr.

Be prepared for pitchforks and torches, Jagr, because there is absolutely no way you'll escape Pittsburgh without hearing the chorus of boos all season long. There was hatred when you demanded and received a trade to Washington, but this move to Philadelphia - a team that dismantled its core just days ago - was all about the greenbacks. 1.3 million more greenbacks, to be exact. And anything else that you try to credit this move to will just come across as insulting to the fans and completely ludicrous to hockey people.

LIE #1: Petr Svoboda told Ray Shero that Jagr's "heart is in Pittsburgh".
LIE #2: "It was never about the money," Svoboda said in a Pittsburgh radio interview.
LIE #3: Two years ago, Jagr told The Hockey News, "If Mario would call me and say, 'I'd like you to play for our team,' I would think about it a lot. I would play for the minimum salary. I would play for $350,000 just for him because I owe him my hockey life. I want to pay him back because he has made me what I am." That's what Mario did earlier this week.

It comes down to credibility for me, and I'm very happy that none of my Penguins jerseys or memorabilia has Jagr on it. I don't really understand why he and agent Petr Svoboda would kick tires with a number of teams just to give them the shaft, but I'm going to warrant a guess that Petr Svoboda won't get very many GMs on the phone in the future for players he represents after this little episode.

As for Jagr, good luck playing for Philly. They have significantly changed their team in the few weeks since the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, and it's difficult to judge how all these moves will impact the Flyers' chances in winning the Stanley Cup.

One thing is certain, though, and that is that Pittsburgh will waiting for Jagr and the Flyers to come to town for more reasons that just a rivalry at this point. Thanks to Jagr's decision to take the Flyers' money, now it's personal.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!


Tex said...

I agree 100%, I feel like a lebron style jersey burning right about now.
Lets go Pens!!!

Peter Santellan said...

Jagr would have had a better chance to win the Cup in Pittsburgh than in Philadelphia this coming season. To say that it wasn't about the money is a complete lie, and the numbers don't lie.

Speaking of money, Ehrhoff was in it for the money when he signed with Buffalo this week. In hindsight, Ehrhoff looks a lot wiser than Jagr right now, simply because the Sabres have a better team than the Flyers at this point. That is a piece for another day.