Sunday, July 6, 2008
While I disliked the man, I would be remiss not to bid farewell to Jaromir Jagr.
Jagr always did things his own way and now he is going out that way. It is sad, for sure, but it is his own fault. Had he not been a moody, petulant child when the Rangers got rid of his buddy Nylander before last season, he could have easily reached the 84 point mark that would have extended his deal with the Rangers. Instead, he sulked and was a shadow of himself. He waited until the playoffs to remind everyone that he indeed was Jaromir Jagr and that was a shame. He was a world class talent - one of the top five Europeans to ever play in the NHL - but he had a child's selfish streak that came from being treated as a phenom his entire life.
Speaking of phenoms, the Rangers drafted Alexei Cherepanov with the hope that one day he will be able to come in and replace Jagr. Now the two of them will be playing together in Siberia. We can only hope that the parting between Jagr and the Rangers was as amicable as everyone said so Jagr sells Cherry on the benefits of Broadway. This could work out fantastically for the Rangers if the former captain takes it upon himself to prepare the youngster mentally and physically for the NHL. Then again, it could be disastrous if he explains that you don't have to work as hard in the Russian league and still make a great tax-free living. That Stanley Cup thing isn't all that it is cracked up to be and the fans are quick to turn on you.
Personally I never turned on him, because I never liked him very much to begin with. I hated that when Jagr was unhappy it showed and I found the fact that the Rangers made him the captain based on his statistics was criminal. You never knew which Jagr was going to step onto the Garden ice: the future Hall of Famer or Oscar the Grouch.
Regardless, the Blueshirts will miss him because even when he wasn't putting forth maximum effort, he was a still physical force who could maintain possession of the puck. Markus Naslund certainly won't be able to keep the disc at his feet with Mike Komisarek or Hal Gill or Brendan Witt on his back. With Jagr's departure, the entire look and feel of the Rangers has now changed; let's just hope it is for the best ... for all parties involved.