No official word on Jagr's status with Pens

| Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Penguins had not heard back from Jaromir Jagr as of late Wednesday, according to general manager Ray Shero.

But longtime acquaintances of team co-owner Mario Lemieux and NHL agents told the Tribune-Review an agreement was in place even as Jagr flew from the Czech Republic to the United States.

There was no confirmation of an agreement from the Penguins, Jagr or Jagr's agent, Petr Svoboda.

The Penguins offered Jagr a one-year deal worth about $2 million, sources said Tuesday. Shero said he wanted to know from Jagr by yesterday if Jagr would accept an offer to play with the team.

The Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens have also made offers for Jagr, who Svoboda said wants to play in the NHL at least one more season after spending three years in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League.

Svoboda said he expected a decision from Jagr when Jagr was scheduled to arrive in New York around 4 p.m. Svoboda said around 5:30 p.m. that Jagr's plane had not landed. Svoboda did not return messages after 6 p.m.

It was unclear where Jagr was staying Wednesday night.

Dozens of Penguins fans gathered at Pittsburgh International Airport Wednesday night in anticipation of Jagr's possible arrival. None of the fans said they had seen Jagr.

The Penguins are hoping to bring Jagr to Pittsburgh, where he spent his first 11 NHL seasons from 1990-2001 — a span in which he helped the club win the Stanley Cup twice and personally claimed an MVP and five scoring titles.

"He was an icon in Pittsburgh," Shero said Tuesday. "We would like to see him finish his career here."

Jagr spoke with Shero on Monday and last week with former teammates and Lemieux.

Like Lemieux, Jagr is a top-10 NHL scorer all time. They combined to win 11 of the 13 scoring titles claimed by a Penguin.

Of course, that dominant Jagr from his famous mullet days is not the player the Penguins anticipate getting because of his age — though, as Penguins coach Dan Bylsma pointed out last week, Jagr produced 71 points in 81 games with the Rangers during his final NHL season.

Bylsma said he was "intrigued" by possibly adding Jagr to a roster that already will be bolstered by the return of superstar centers Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, neither of whom played most of the second half and in the playoffs this past season because of injuries.

With Jagr, Malkin and Crosby, the Penguins would employ three players that have combined for seven scoring titles, two MVPs and a playoff MVP. The trio has combined for 11 100-point seasons.

The Penguins had about $6 million to spend under the NHL's salary cap as of Thursday because they prefer to keep around $1.5 million available for in-season moves.

On Tuesday they re-signed right wing Pascal Dupuis, one of several players who were set to become an unrestricted free agent Friday.

Others that can go that route are wingers Tyler Kennedy, Max Talbot and Mike Rupp. Arron Asham signed a one-year deal worth $775,000 late last night to remain with the Penguins.

Shero has been engaged in talks with agents for Kennedy and Rupp, but Talbot, who scored the only two goals in a Game 7 win at Detroit in the 2009 Cup Final, will not be re-signed before Friday.

Shero hopes to re-sign Kennedy to a multiyear deal and ink Rupp before Friday, when a reportedly weak crop of free agents will command high prices because many NHL teams must increase payroll to hit the salary floor.

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