Wouldn’t we all love to see Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr back together again on the ice as they were back in the day with the Pittsburgh Penguins? It was a great time to cheer for the Penguins and that’s likely why Lemieux attempted to get his buddy back in Pittsburgh in 2011.
However, he never expected his offer to lead to a huge feud between the two of them.
Former Penguins player and current team radio broadcaster Phil Bourque made an appearance on WDVE Thursday morning and explained that Jagr revealed to him how his decision to join the Philadelphia Flyers in 2011 led Lemieux to spurn his former teammate.
Lemieux had contacted Jagr to get him to return to the Penguins after the Czech legend had made the comment two years prior to signing in Philly that he would play for the league minimum to come back to Pittsburgh.
Lemieux believed him though Jagr admitted he was “saying things, just to say things.”
When Jagr choose the Flyers over the Pens, because he felt he would’ve only been a “third-liner or fourth-liner” in Pittsburgh, it was a direct hit to Lemieux’s heart and ego and the feud began between the two great players.
Jagr ended up posting 19 goals and 54 points that year as the Flyers eliminated the Penguins in the postseason. Double blow to Lemieux.
Bourque then revealed that Jagr got the vibe that Lemieux was still upset about that turn of events when the men met at the NHL 100 ceremony in January 2017.
“I’m paraphrasing here,” Bourque explained. “But (Jagr said) Mario was chafed. Mario was (ticked). That was the first time he had ever seen Mario (ticked) at him. Because Mario went out of his way and actually called (Jagr) to make this happen and thought it was a done deal, and all of the sudden the Flyers got in the mix and they scooped him.
“He knew that he had wronged Mario, and there is no way to right that wrong now.”
This picture might be the proof of the start of a new friendship as the two men finally address the situation during the event.
Bourque went on to explain Jagr’s choice:
“He basically said (of signing with the Flyers)—in a self-infliction type of way—that ‘I was being selfish. I was taking care of me.’ You don’t like to hear that. But also, there’s a part of you that, maybe, understands it.”
Maybe now, almost nine years later, Lemieux gets it too.