Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Morbidly curious


A month and a half ago, I bashed dopes on the Internet who called for and/or predicted the return of Jaromir Jagr not just to the NHL but to the Penguins.

On the eve of Free Agency Day, it's looking like it might happen after all. Color me surprised.

Ray Shero has not ruled out the prospect of signing Jagr. In fact, comments he's made suggest the opposite, that the team continues to have internal discussions about adding the one-time team captain. I still think Jagr ends up with Detroit, as Ken Holland can offer more money.

Should Jagr suit up in black and gold again, I don't know how I'd feel about it. I'm pretty much securely on the fence.

I think it could work well. Jagr could still be capable of 25 goals and who knows, 60 to 80 points. He'd likely infuse some new life into a tired, stagnant and predictable power play. Being on the tail end of his career, he's more likely to keep his head down in the locker room and enjoy one more chance at winning the Stanley Cup and not become an issue with the established hierarchy.

I also think it's very possible that the exact opposite will happen. We'll find Jagr can't adjust back to the NHL style after playing three years in the KHL, and his production will be on par with Alexei Kovalev's. If that happens, Jagr could start showing the prima-donna-ness that we've seen from him before, creating mass chaos in a locker room that's been very tight-knit for several years now.

One thing is for certain, though: He won't make the power play worse. That's impossible.

I know one other thing: I do not want to see Jagr in a Red Wings uniform. (Disclaimer: Unless Scenario B happens and he completely derails that team's season.)

There has been enough talk lately of Jagr returning that I've started to come around, and at this point, I'm very curious to see how he'll do, back in this league, on this team. I wouldn't be declaring the Penguins the favorites next season because of Jagr, but I also don't think it would be the train wreck that several people I know believe it would be.

It would be nice seeing Jagr retire as a Penguin though and smooth things over with so much of the fan base that has turned on him. He's still the second-greatest Penguin ever (though check back with me in 10 years) and was a critical piece in the first two Stanley Cup victories.

Jagr's return to the NHL, and possibly to Pittsburgh, is a complete unknown. I think I'd like to see how it turns out.

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