So, Jaromir Jagr could see himself in Edmonton Oilers colours, could he? I bet he could, as long as there’s lots of green to go along with the copper and blue he suddenly seems to be fond of.
After sounding thoroughly disinterested a few months ago about overtures made by president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, Jagr has the hearts of some Oilers fans all a-titter now that’s he’s apparently cozied up to the idea of all that green, ahem, I mean copper and blue.
Thursday at the IIHF World Championships, Jagr was quoted in the National Post as saying: “That was really exciting when I heard Edmonton pushed really hard to get me, I really appreciate it.
“I want to thank those guys (in Edmonton). And, if I ever got there (back in the NHL), they would be my No. 1 pick because they showed me the interest first. I never forget that. I respect that and they would be my first pick.”
Really? Is that so? Is that right? It seems to me Jagr’s flip-flop on interest by the Oilers is equalled only by the KHL’s reversal of financial fortune. Wasn’t it just a few months ago Jagr shrugged off Edmonton?
He said: “Yes such an opportunity really existed. The teams had discussed how that could be fulfilled. But it did not depend on me. Should Omsk ask me to join Edmonton, I’d do that, but that was not something I desired myself.”
Now, apparently, he does.
Sign the papers, old man
Already 37 and several years removed from his prime, Jagr still has one year remaining on his contract with Omsk of the KHL and indicated he intends, at least for now, to honour it.
That would mean Mario Junior would be nearing his 39th birthday by the time he signs for a stack of cash, I mean pulls on a jersey, with the Oilers. What would it take to get Jagr? One season at $6 million, $7 million?
I wrote back on March 10 that I think pursuing Jagr and trying to turn back the hands of time is a waste of money and effort for the Oilers, and I don’t feel any different about it today. The reasons remains the same.
What, there won’t be a player available as a UFA this summer for $6 million who’s got more in the tank and can be a part of the future of organization for more than a year? Jagr, in what looks to me like a money grab and nothing more, is GM Steve Tambellini’s best option? I think not.
1. Even if Jagr isn’t the player he used to be, he’d be worth that stack of dough because, well, he’d do so much for the image of Edmonton as a destination for unrestricted free agents. We have, after all, been shunned often and by many. You can’t put a price on esteem.
Well, no. Putting together a team capable of competing for a Stanley Cup would do far more in terms of attracting UFAs — welcome to the Motor City Marian Hossa — than paying sucker money to a once-great player a decade past his prime. Works OK in Detroit, no?
2. So what if Jagr only has 27 points at Christmas? The young players on the roster need a mentor and Jagr would be great. He’s a leader of young men and that’s what’s been lacking around here. Think about the kids. How else are Sam Gagner and Andrew Cogliano supposed to develop?
I don’t know, how did Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane manage without a $7-million nanny wearing a jock in Chicago? Who did Rick Nash learn from in Columbus, Jody Shelley? Alex Ovechkin figured it out in Washington without having Father Time on the wing.
3. Still, even if Jagr was in it only for the money and it turned out he wasn’t even a legitimate top-six forward any more, it would be really cool to bring him in just to say we did.
No. Jagr’s mullet in the 1990s was cool. Winning is cool. Looking ahead instead of back over your shoulder is cool. Having a long-term plan and taking some lumps in the short-term to do it right and make it work is cool. I don’t think Jagr fits into that.
Somebody might pay Jagr’s price, but it shouldn’t be the Oilers.
— Listen to Robin Brownlee every Thursday from 4 to 6pm on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.