Jaromir Jagr faults Sidney Crosby for not signing back in Pittsburgh in 2011

Jaromir Jagr faults Sidney Crosby for not signing back in Pittsburgh in 2011

He explains how the captain is somewhat to blame for Jagr is signing with the Flyers instead…



On opening day of free agency in 2011, Jaromir Jagr stunned fans when he chose to sign a one-year contract with the Philadelphia Flyers. After spending the past three seasons playing in Russia, Jagr had mulled over a one-year offer to rejoin the Pittsburgh Penguins, but instead signed with their Pennsylvania rival in Philly.

Some assumed it was about the money. The Flyers’ deal was worth $3.3 million. The Penguins’ offer was for $2 million. However ahead of his number retirement ceremony in Pittsburgh this weekend, Jagr explained to Tom Gulitti of what really went through his mind when deciding where he would return to the NHL.

It sounds like Jagr sort of blames Sidney Crosby for not choosing to return to Pittsburgh to continue his NHL career.

“If I would go to Pittsburgh – and I understand that – Sid would have his own line, Malkin would have his own line. So, the best I would play would be maybe third or fourth line, and I don’t think I would get the chance to show I can play. That was the only worry I had. I picked Philly because they made these big trades. They traded (away) Jeff Carter and (Mike) Richards. They brought new guys in, and I felt like I was going to have the same chance because the team is totally new. If I don’t make it, it’s my fault, I’m not good enough, but I would get the same chance like everybody else.”

Jagr also believes that Crosby is also one of the reasons his former teammate Mario Lemieux came out of retirement in 2000 to get back into the Penguins’ lineup. He wanted to still play while he could before younger guys like Crosby would take over.

“He couldn’t watch anymore, so he said, ‘I’m coming back.’ But pretty soon, there’s going to more players, you know, Sid. The time between me and Mario, it’s a long time, but pretty soon there’s going to be more and more players who deserve to be there.”

Jagr’s No. 68 will be the third retired by Pittsburgh this weekend, as his jersey will join No. 66 and Michel Briere’s No. 21 in the rafters. Jagr is second in NHL history with 1,921 points (766 goals, 1,155 assists) in 1,733 regular-season games. He played the first 11 of his 24 NHL seasons with the Penguins, winning the Stanley Cup with them in 1991 and 1992, the Hart Trophy as the League’s most valuable player in 1998-99 and the Art Ross Trophy for leading the League in points five times (1994-95, 1997-98, 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01).

He is on leave from playing for Kladno, his team he owns in the Extraliga, the top professional league in Czechia in order to spend some time celebrating in Pittsburgh.

And he will get to do so with some former teammates, including Lemieux, but also with Crosby and Malkin that will be there on the ice, just before the game against the Los Angeles Kings at PPG Paints Arena on Saturday.

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