Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Oddity: Jagr a Dallas Star

Okay. Show of hands. How many of you can picture Jaromir Jagr in a Dallas Stars jersey? It's about as daunting as No.68 starring for the Philadelphia Flyers like he had this year. All this time later, I still have trouble seeing Jagr in anything other than Pittsburgh Penguin colors. That's where he made his career, teaming up with Super Mario to win consecutive Stanley Cups on which the Pens were founded.

Surprised? Don't be. I am a throwback hockey fan who loves when players stay with one organization like legend Martin Brodeur across the Hudson. I wasn't the only excited Ranger fan who was happy that Marty re-signed with the only team he knows. I'd echoed it throughout that it wouldn't be right for Mar----ttttttaaaaayyyyy to wind up on another roster. It'd be like Lidstrom ending his career elsewhere or Sakic. I caught the tail end of Mike Modano's career on NHL Network last night and there was that odd image of him wearing the Winged Wheel for his hometown. It never should've happened.

Certain players belong to one city. Remember when Mike Richter nearly left for Florida? An ugly thought all these years later about our Richy. It's the same for Eric Lindros, who was exiled out of Philadelphia to Broadway. Sure. The Big E wore our red, white and blue with pride before the predictable ending. He had us in first. To me, Lindros will always be the Flyers. I was glad he took part in the Legends Game at The Winter Classic, making amends with Bobby Clarke and Ed Snider. Grudges should never last. Life's too short. Try telling Axl Rose. One can dream. Pavel Bure is finally entering the Hockey Hall Of Fame. Will the Canucks follow suit and honor the Russian Rocket?

You can see where this is headed. Jaromir Jagr should have been a Pen for life. But financial dire straits along with Mario Lemieux's return doomed that. But it was all Jagr's fault. That's what Pittsburgh fans will take to their graves. It had nothing to do with ownership or how much they were losing. When it became apparent that No.68's time was up in the Steel City, he wanted New York City. But instead, they sent him to Washington. A place he never liked and predictably fizzled bad enough that we stole Jagr for Anson Carter.

Is Jagr a headcase? I wouldn't go that far. But he's in his own world. One that still occasionally shows off the lethal skills that have made him one of the greatest players. Sure. He's getting up there having reached the 40-Club along with Brodeur, Teemu Selanne and Ray Whitney. All still on top of their craft that they'll probably all be back. Please one more year Teemu. Hockey needs you.

After three years away, Jagr proved that he can still play in the NHL, tallying 19 goals and 35 assists while teaming with Claude Giroux and Scott Hartnell on one of the game's best lines. If only the Flyers wanted him back. I'd have loved to see a sequel for that line even if No.68 ran out of gas in a second round defeat to the Devils. The lost point on some who critiqued how much Dallas gave him- the same $4.5 million Brodeur and Whitney received- is that Jagr still knows how to play the game. He's a presence, using his 6-3, 240 frame to ward off defenders and then able to find teammates. Jagr got the last laugh against the Pens. The one goal he scored was highlight reel, making us wonder if it was '99 instead of '12.

Don't forget Jagr and Whitney are teaming up with another new Star Derek Roy, who could form a dynamic line behind Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson and Michael Ryder. They also have gritty captain Brenden Morrow. The Stars subtracted Mike Ribeiro, Sheldon Souray and popular Steve Ott. Are the new look Stars better? The jury is out. They're a bit older but more skilled. Will they miss Ott's energy?

Regardless, Jagr moves to Dallas where he'll share his fifth NHL home with J.R. Ewing and Jerry Jones. It's gonna take some getting used to. Hell. When Lindros played there, it was funny seeing that No.88 in Stars green, gold and white. Now, we get to watch No.68 as the oddity. He'll make it interesting because that's who he is. A relaxed vet who brings presence and humor to the room. Jagr and JR. Now that would be a home run if they ran a commercial together with Jerry in the middle.

See you soon Jaromir!

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