Whenever I hear someone mention the name Jaromir Jagr with regard to the Penguins, one of two images pops into my head:
Most of the time it's the 1992 Stanley Cup Final game 1 goal he scored against the Chicago Blackhawks. The one where he weaved his way through players from the half wall to the net and scored on Eddie Belfour.
It became, perhaps, the "signature goal" of his career.
A lot of you that look at it now have only ever seen it in a replay...many years later.
I was 25 back then...and it happened "live" on television. (I wasn't fortunate enough to be at that game).
Jagr was only in his second year...a mere 20 year old...and just beginning to realize his true potential.
The other image I have...it's actually a combination of memories that forms an image...is one of the sulking Jagr. The one where he's talking to reporters in the locker room and mentioning things like "dying alive". It's the "end of an era" in Pittsburgh image that I think of less often...probably because it's more painful to recall.
When I read yesterday that the Pens were "courting" Jagr, the first image I thought of was the one from 1992. That's what made me look up the youtube video I embedded above.
It would be unrealistic...a pipe dream...a serious loss of my grip on reality...to expect Jagr to come back to Pittsburgh and do anything close to what he did in Game 1 of those finals.
When he was 20, he could skate like that for 90% of a game. Today, at 39, I think the numbers are reversed.
Still, as we have seen with players like Mark Recchi and Teemu Selanne, forwards near or in their 40's can still be productive in this league...if the team finds the right fit for them and if the player realizes his role.
I think there is a place for Jagr on the 2011-12 version of the Penguins. If the money is right then surely Jagr would find a way to do well with Malkin or Crosby. He may not have the same speed but you'd have to think a guy with his abilities, even at 39, could score more points than say a Pascal Dupuis did along side Crosby (no offense to Pascal I really like what he brings to the team...)
To me, for a couple of million a year, it's a no brainer to bring him back.
Although the image of a sulking Jagr is not one that I remember very often, it is one that goes hand in hand with his departure from Pittsburgh.
Bringing him back may not create any new signature goal memories...but maybe...just maybe...it would create a better ending to his career as a Penguin. One more befitting what he did for this club and it's fans during the prime of his career. And it would...eventually...give all of us that remember him as he was in 1992, a chance to say goodbye to him, as a Penguin. The way we all imagined it would have happened when his NHL career was over.
I was in DC a few years back for a Caps vs Rangers game and it was Wendy's (I think...) "Mullet Night". They passed out red mullet wigs and at one point showed a collection of famous hockey mullets on the video screen. Of course, at the end of the video "you know who" was shown as the most famous mullet. And...I am guessing...to the surprise of no one who reads this and remembers Jagr's time in DC...Jagr was booed heavily when his image appeared on the video screen.
Let me be the first (that I know of...) to say that IF Jagr comes back to the Pens, at some point in the 2011-12 season they have to run a promotional Jagr night with free mullet wigs.
Sure, it may be a bit of a "copy cat" move...but it would be a huge missed opportunity not to have some recognition of Jagr and perhaps the hockey worlds most famous "mullet" ever...as a Penguin...
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