Friday, July 8, 2011
It seems that like the beginning of every Free Agency period every off-season in the NHL is a flat-out circus. I had already mentioned my slight displeasure at the Flyers surprise off-loading of Mike Richards and Jeff Carter for an overrated goaltender that doesn’t respond well to pressure, and a handful of young players and prospects, but on the first day of Free Agency, the Flyers managed to surprise yet again with one of the flat-out strangest signings I can ever remember them making. They signed a player that at one time (specifically the 90s) managed to run all over the team whenever they clashed, a player who has spent the last three years playing in Russia’s KHL league and many thought would make a return to the Pittsburgh Penguins to properly close out his career in the NHL…
Yeah, you remember this guy named Jaromir Jagr?
Growing up a hockey fan throughout my youth in the 90s, the biggest names in hockey were Wayne Gretzky and Mario Lemieux: two legendary players that re-defined the way the game is played. Behind them though was Jagr; the magnificently talented Czech who seemed to do no wrong playing with Lemieux in Pittsburgh. Even when Lemieux was absent due to injuries or his multiple retirements, Jagr carried the Penguins to the playoffs seemingly year after year, capturing scoring titles and even a Hart Trophy for MVP. The man, the mullet, the ability to turn a game upside down by himself, that was the Jaromir Jagr we all know and remember.
But that was quite some time ago.
Having last played for the New York Rangers three years ago, and still making an impact in the league mind you, Jagr bolted for the KHL seemingly in pursuit for more cash, and why not? He’s been a Stanley Cup champion, an MVP, an Olympic Gold Medalist; he’s done it all. So it only seemed natural that Jagr would come back to the NHL to bookend his career playing for the team that he did so much for in a long period of time…
…then he goes and shocks the shit out of everyone and signs with the fucking Flyers.
Unlike a majority of Flyers fans, I was actually excited (albeit fucking bewildered) about the signing. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I’d ever see Jaromir fucking Jagr in the orange and black. I never thought there may come a time when he’d be playing on Philly ice and actually getting cheered (which granted, hasn’t happened yet). I never thought I’d see the Flyers make such a bizarre signing either…but then again I never thought I’d see the Flyers jettison the supposed “core” of their team either. Please note that when I say the signing of Jagr is bizarre, I mean that in terms of it being completely unpredictable; no one could believe that this has happened. Since the signing, there have been plenty of detractors, but one thing here is for sure, this may in fact be the most interesting and drama-worthy lineup the Flyers have had in quite some time.
Now, just think about this for a second: a locker room that features frequently outspoken guys like Jagr, Chris Pronger, Ilya Bryzgalov, and Scott Hartnell. Can you see any personality clashes on the horizon? I would fucking love to be a fly on that wall when the losing streak starts…