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Bylsma has no worries about Jagr's attitude

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Don't expect Penguins coach Dan Bylsma to object if general manager Ray Shero signs Jaromir Jagr.

Bylsma spoke glowingly of Jagr moments before the NHL Entry Draft began Friday and dismissed any notion that the former Penguins star is a coach killer. Although Jagr has endured occasionally rocky relationships with coaches such as Herb Brooks in Pittsburgh and Ron Wilson in Washington, Bylsma isn't concerned.

If anything, the newly crowned Jack Adams Award winner as the league's top coach sounds enthusiastic about the possibility of working with Jagr, the NHL's ninth all-time leading scorer.

"If I had done homework, that's not what I've heard," Bylsma said of Jagr's bad reputation with coaches. "I haven't heard that from people who may or may not have played with him at the World Championships."

Translation: Bylsma spoke with Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek, who played with Jagr for the Czech Republic in the World Championships last month. Bylsma acknowledged talking with Michalek, who offered a positive report regarding Jagr's attitude.

Jagr's agent, Petr Svoboda, likely will speak with Shero and Red Wings general manager Ken Holland this weekend. The NHL confirmed Thursday that Jagr isn't permitted to sign with an NHL team until July 1. No news of negotiations was apparent yesterday.

Bylsma might be involved in any Jagr talks.

"To the extent that there is involvement, I am involved with Ray," Bylsma said. "There is talk among people in the organization about where Jagr would fit."

Bylsma said the Penguins hadn't seriously considered Jagr until recently, referencing quotes Jagr made in "a Russian newspaper" during the World Championships.

But now, there is a different tone in Bylsma and the Penguins' approach toward this situation.

Bylsma confirmed that the "Jagr watch" is a primary issue for the Penguins and spoke at length of Jagr's talent.

"It's on the front burner now with July 1 coming," he said.

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