Chris Hueber over at Too Many Men On The Site is doing an awesome job gathering all of the rumors that are floating around the hockey world right now. According to CJAD 800AM in Montreal, “sources” informed them that the Rangers, among a few other teams “could show interest.” Yes, the dreaded radio rumor. Montreal radio stations are famous for false rumors (remember when they reported that Marian Hossa’s gear was in the Habs’ locker room and that he was officially traded there a few years ago?). There’s also their word choice. The Rangers “could show interest.” “Could,” as in they might decide to. Then there’s the “interest” part. Calling up Jagr and just and touching base with him is showing interest. In other words, this is a complete non-rumor rumor. Any hockey fan could say that any team “could show interest” in any player and have a decent chance of being right.
This is as much of a “take it with a grain of salt” type of rumor as there is. Still, it’s been a pretty slow week in terms of Rangers news, and I think it’s at least worth discussing Jaromir Jagr; a guy who almost single-handedly turned this franchise around. Jagr scored 19 goals in 49 games in the KHL this season, which would put him at a 32 goals if we translate that to an 82 game schedule. The KHL has a larger ice surface, inferior defense and ESPECIALLY inferior goaltending when compared to the NHL, so it doesn’t fully translate at all. Jagr will be 39 years old by the start of the next NHL season. Especially if the “Jagr to the NHL” rumors pick up, I think you’ll see some Rangers fans who want him back, but I think that is nostalgia talking more than anything. This is a much more beat up Jagr than the one we saw in a Rangers uniform, and I don’t really see how he would fit in with this team’s style of play. Still, if he would take a paycut I’d definitely consider adding him. He’s still good for 17-25 goals in this league, and if you look at this year’s free agent market, even those kinds of producers won’t be easy to add. I really see this as a long shot, though. Jagr isn’t a lock to return to the NHL at all, and if he does, I see him signing with Edmonton or Montreal, whom he’s been connected to, or even Pittsburgh, who desperately needs some wing help. Owner Mario Lemieux also might want to bring his linemate back to Pittsburgh and amend the falling out Jagr had with the team when he was traded to Washington.
It’s pretty incredible to think about the impact Jaromir Jagr made on the Rangers in so little time. He spent a whole 3 and a half years with the Rangers, never made it past the 2nd round with us, and won no awards except a Pearson. But he took a young and pretty barren Rangers roster and made us go from THE laughingstock of the NHL to a team that has been in the playoffs almost every year and has the potential to do a lot of damage in the future. How many players in the last 30 years spent under 4 seasons with an NHL team, failed to win a Stanley Cup with them, and still means as much to them as Jagr does to the Rangers? I think you’d be hard-pressed to find one.