Share This Page

Jagr tries to set the record straight

His recollection of history is not factually accurate, but Jaromir Jagr went out of his way Friday to make a few points about his ugly divorce from the Penguins.

Jagr, a former Penguins captain now vilified by Pittsburghers for filling that role with the New York Rangers, said his request for a trade after the 2001 Stanley Cup playoffs was designed to help then-general manger Craig Patrick keep together a core of talented forwards -- Alexei Kovalev, Martin Straka and Robert Lang.

"The team went through the tough time with the bankruptcy (in 1999)," Jagr said. "It didn't have a lot of money. I thought it would be easier for the team to trade one guy than let go of three guys. If they would have kept me here, they wouldn't have signed Alex, Marty or Robert. I just wanted to make it easier for the team.

"Plus, there was no reason to keep me when Mario (Lemieux) came back."

Jagr, second in career rankings only to Lemieux in most major Penguins' offensive categories, was traded to the Washington Capitals on July 11, 2001. This is his third season with the Rangers, and Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinal playoff series last night marked his first playoff game against the Penguins, who drafted him fifth overall in 1990.

Jagr claimed a fondness yesterday for Pittsburgh, where he still owns a home in the South Hills -- albeit an ant-infested property rented by fellow Czech and Penguins right wing Petr Sykora.

"I love it here. Why would I have wanted to be traded?" Jagr said. "But I think they did good to trade me. It was the right move at the right time. They could sign all the guys, and they had Mario."

Jagr praised Lemieux, his boyhood idol, but said he was not sure if they would speak during the series. He denied any tension between him and Lemieux during the 2000-01 season -- Lemieux's celebrated return from a three-plus year retirement.

Jagr's accomplishments with the Penguins rival only those of Lemieux. He was a two-time Stanley Cup champion and won a Hart Trophy, the Lester B. Pearson Award twice and the Art Ross Trophy five times during his 11-year-tenure.

"When you are younger, you don't appreciate that much," Jagr said of his glory days with the Penguins. "You think everything is about yourself. But people learn, and everybody learns. But when you have the memories and you look around ... you can tell how many great players we had on this team. It was so great."

Whether it was great enough to merit his No. 68 ultimately joining Lemieux's No. 66 in honorary retirement by the Penguins, well.

"I don't know what's going to happen," Jagr said. "If something happens, it's going to take time. It's not going to be tomorrow."

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.