Well, dear readers, it is June 30, and I think it’s time to officially retire the phrase JagrWatch.
I will pause while everybody takes a deep breath.
What happened in the past 12 hours was well, a watch, but only if you consider that:
• The agent for Jaromir Jagr reportedly doesn’t know where Jagr is. Petr Svoboda told the Detroit Free Press that he isn’t sure if Jagr missed a connection to the USA — oh, yeah; he’s coming to the States, as first reported here — and Svoboda stopped returning my call around 6 p.m.
• My hard-working colleague @JoshYohe_Trib raced to the Pittsburgh airport around 10 p.m. after receiving a tip that Jagr was on a flight to Pittsburgh. He wasn’t (apparently), but there were two dozen some Penguins fans waiting for Jagr, and some car-rental workers expecting him. Josh is right: #JagrWatch went epic, and Penguins fans are scary (in a good way) passionate.
Sidebar: Josh ran into Pirates owner Bob Nutting at the airport. Went looking for Jagr, found Nutting. Sorry, had to write it.
• I discussed no fewer than three different versions of stories with colleague @Dejan_Kovacevic and my Trib editors during a two-hour span starting around 8:30 p.m. Never have I agonized over a lede as much as this one.
About that story, look at what you don’t see:
- Jagr hasn’t turned down the Penguins;
- The Penguins haven’t said their offer is off the table;
- Jagr hasn’t been linked as a sure thing — can he be at this point? — to play in Detroit or Montreal?
- The Penguins are closing in, I’m told, on something with Tyler Kennedy — and their plan all along was to sign Kennedy, agree to something with Jagr and sign either Pascal Dupuis and/or Mike Rupp. (Rupp is out, seemingly, after the signing of Arron Asham.)
• An invasion of turtles. A phrase I never thought I’d say to an editor, as in, “I don’t know if Jagr’s plane has landed because there are apparently turtles on JFK’s runway.” The editor: “An invasion of turtles the AP story says.” Me: “AN INVASION OF TURTLES?” Him: “Yes.” Me: “Well, now I know Jagr is coming back, it only makes sense if there is an invasion of turtles.” Him: “Yeah.”
• The Arron Asham deal means that Mike Rupp is probably going to test the UFA market, and I hear he’s going to get paid — as did the Penguins, no doubt. Best of luck to him. Great, great guy. Plans to live in Pittsburgh, and we’re a better city for it.
• We’ll be lesser without Max Talbot, who is going to test the UFA market as well. I don’t know if the Penguins ever tried to trade him to Toronto … all I do know is that Talbot scored two of the most consequential goals in team history on June 12, 2009, and for that (and many other reasons) he will always belong up there with any Penguins “superstar” not surnamed Lemieux, Crosby or, yep, Jagr.
Also, not to put too fine a point on it, but Penguins are seemingly saying goodbye to two charity giants in Talbot and Rupp. Their work is that of true-natured golden hearts, and I respect that about them more than anything.
• I tried to take the day off from Twitter, at least until I knew something firm on Jagr. Tried. It was tough. Apparently that didn’t sit well with everybody. Sorry, but the Trib, not Twitter, pays the bills — and I had my hands full. Probably the same today, though I cannot imagine how it can be any stranger of a day.
• I’m not sure that the Penguins can confirm any deal that would be reached with Jagr before Friday because of the unique situation that is him not being able to sign until Friday at noon. That might break an NHL rule. I’m checking on that.
Update: (Heard this around 7 a.m. from NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly: “They are not entitled to sign and file a contract until July 1. Free to negotiate and reach agreement, but that agreement wouldn’t be enforceable against either party.” So, seems there is nothing illegal about Penguins and Jagr working out the deal today. That doesn’t mean either party would be obligated to keep its word Friday.)
• No, I don’t rule out him playing with the Penguins next season. Two reasons: 1) That is still the most logical outcome, even after Wednesday’s wild ride; and 2) after Wednesday, I’d rule out NOTHING.
• I think it’s entirely possible only two people in the world know what’s going on with Jagr right now. Him and his idol. Draw your own conclusions.
• Either way with Jagr, I’m not expecting GM Ray Shero to be a big player on the first couple of days during free agency. Overpaying simply isn’t something he’s going to do, and the market isn’t great.
• Closing line, from somebody who knows Jagr: “No, I’m not surprised by any of this today, but I know the guy. This is just him.”