The Malik Report
by George Malik on 06/30/11 at 03:18 AM ET
Updated with comments from Ray Shero and Ken Holland at 1:46 AM: Well, the Jagr watch has turned into, “Where the hell is he?” Unless we believe the Czech reports that Jagr’s either turned down the Penguins and/or is attempting to renegotiate a deal, we’re left in scratching-our-heads territory, as noted by MLive’s Ansar Khan:
His agent, Petr Svoboda, said shortly after 10 p.m. that no decision would be made tonight. Svoboda, who is based in Montreal, said he hasn’t even spoken today to Jagr, who was scheduled to arrive in New York this afternoon.
“Nothing new to report,’’ Svoboda said. “I don’t know where he is.’‘
Jagr, 39, is contemplating one-year contract offers from the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins. All kinds of reports and rumors have been swirling all day long. A Russian media outlet had Jagr signing for $1.4 million with the Penguins, which the club has denied. A Czech media outlet claimed he has rejected Pittsburgh’s offer, which Svoboda indicated is not accurate.
From the Penguins’ press, we get speculation that a deal remains in place, per the Pittsburgh Tribune-review’s Rob Rossi and Dejean Kovacevic (that, and we’ve learned that bloggers in Pittsburgh commit a big no-no in calling a player’s agent to ask where his client is):
The Penguins had not heard back from Jaromir Jagr as of late Wednesday, according to general manager Ray Shero. But longtime acquaintances of team co-owner Mario Lemieux and NHL agents told the Tribune-Review an agreement was in place even as Jagr flew from the Czech Republic to the United States.
There was no confirmation of an agreement from the Penguins, Jagr or Jagr’s agent, Petr Svoboda.
The Penguins offered Jagr a one-year deal worth about $2 million, sources said Tuesday. Shero said he wanted to know from Jagr by yesterday if Jagr would accept an offer to play with the team.
The Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens have also made offers for Jagr, who Svoboda said wants to play in the NHL at least one more season after spending three years in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.
Svoboda said he expected a decision from Jagr when Jagr was scheduled to arrive in New York around 4 p.m. Svoboda said around 5:30 p.m. that Jagr’s plane had not landed. Svoboda did not return messages after 6 p.m. It was unclear where Jagr was staying Wednesday night.
Dozens of Penguins fans gathered at Pittsburgh International Airport Wednesday night in anticipation of Jagr’s possible arrival. None of the fans said they had seen Jagr.
And while the Tribune-Review’s Joe Starkey’s bought into the “narrative” and dramatics, and several former Penguins provided de-facto testimonials about Jagr’s worth to Kovacevic, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Dave Molinari lives in reality land, and he, like the majority of Wings and Penguins followers, wants clarification and closure:
Jaromir Jagr might be totally sincere when he says he would like to play for the Penguins again. But he doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to commit to doing it.
Although the Penguins told Jagr they wanted to know by Wednesday whether he would accept their proposal, neither he nor his agent, Petr Svoboda, had given team officials confirmation of his willingness to do so by last night.
A team spokesman, at the behest of general manager Ray Shero, contacted media outlets at around 10 p.m. to alert them that, contrary to some reports, club officials had not spoken with Jagr.
At least part of the problem in getting Jagr’s immediate future clarified Wednesday might have been travel-related. His flight from Prague in the Czech Republic to JFK airport in New York arrived late, and it was not immediately clear where he connected to after arriving in the United States. Assuming he got on another aircraft at all.
Jagr publicly began to discuss his desire to return to the NHL several months ago and attracted attention from the Penguins and Detroit, both of whom have proposed one-year deals. Svoboda has suggested that at least one other, unidentified NHL team has pursued Jagr, and he is believed to have had a standing offer to return to the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia as well.
Shero and his staff spent about 10 days discussing where Jagr would fit with their team—and looking into his motivation for coming back to the NHL—before making a contract proposal Tuesday.
And, for the record, iDnes.cz‘s as baffled about what’s going on as we are.
Update: Per ESPN’s Scott Burnside:
We know what [Christian] Ehrhoff will be doing Thursday. As for five-time NHL scoring champ Jaromir Jagr? Not so sure.
Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero told ESPN.com on Wednesday night that there was no news on whether Jagr was prepared to sign a deal with the team with whom he had his greatest success.
Detroit GM Ken Holland also told ESPN.com that they had no update on the status of Jagr and his bid to return to the NHL. Even Jagr’s agent, Petr Svoboda, didn’t seem to know where Jagr was as of Wednesday night.
What a shocker.
It’s believed Montreal is another team still hoping to secure the 39-year-old’s services.
Update #2: From NHL.com’s Dan Rosen, via Puck Daddy:
Red Wings GM Ken Holland told NHL.com late Wednesday he had not heard from Jagr’s camp and was not aware of the player’s whereabouts.
Penguins GM Ray Shero told NHL.com in a text message late Wednesday that he had not yet heard from Jagr’s camp, either.
“No word from them,” he wrote. “We are working on signing our own players. (Craig) Adams and (Pascal) Dupuis are done. Working on (Tyler) Kennedy and (Arron) Asham.” (The Penguins announced a one-year deal with Asham shortly thereafter.)
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