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Geno speaks (from far away), and a Jagr thought.


Happy Tuesday, dear readers; for the Americans among the audience, I hope your Independence Day was colorful with the suitable intake of greasy burgers. U-S-A!!!

Bad jokes aside, somebody passed along this English-translation (I believe) of an interview Evgeni Malkin conducted with a Russian news organization. Pretty sure I’ve read bits and pieces from this before – likely during the madness of the two-month You-Know-Who Watch, but there were some interesting points from Malkin, so enjoy:

As for other news:

= Some Czech Republic readers have sent emails, many expressing confusion as to why the Penguins as an organization feel disappointed in Jaromir Jagr’s decision to join the Flyers. To be clear, I don’t sense frustration from the organization – in fact, I don’t sense anything emotional from GM Ray Shero – but I do feel the sentiment of confusion as to why Jagr would, on handfuls of occasions, speak in such high regarding of wanting to make amends with his original NHL team and do right by Mario Lemieux, only to not contact anybody from the Penguins after Shero made him an offer last Tuesday.

As for Jagr’s legacy and the Penguins’ now holding a grudge… look, I genuinely believe his No. 68 is highly unlikely to be retired in Pittsburgh; but I believe that because, simply, I cannot envision how such a scenario would present itself. Number retirements require fans to buy in. More than buy in, fans must on some level crave a player’s number to be retired. If somebody can make an argument for Penguins fans craving that Jagr’s number be retired after this latest course of action, well, I’m all ears. I just don’t see it.

Finally, I don’t know Jagr. The people I know who do know him insist he is a well-intentioned guy, just one who prizes money above most if not all else. I don’t think that makes him a bad person. However, I do think he blew it last week – not by declining the Penguins offer, but by allowing three well-respected organization to go days without hearing from him after he spoke of wanting to play for those organizations, and then, by all accounts, never getting in touch with those organizations after offers to him were made. That was just bizarre behavior. Also, his explanation left a lot to be desired in terms of what to believe.

Last point on this, at least I hope the last point: Months ago, when the Penguins first invited Jagr back for a summer golf alumni gathering, I was told that the thing to keep in mind about Jagr is that his words and actions rarely mesh. That much was proven true last week, and this was a lesson to be learned when/if future reports on Jagr are necessary.

= Lost in the shuffle of the Jagr madness was word from coach Dan Bylsma that he is open to trying James Neal as the right wing on a line with Chris Kunitz and Sidney Crosby. Bylsma likes the way the styles of both Kunitz and Neal play to Crosby’s preferences for winger play. Hmmm…

Bylsma also referred to Malkin playing on the wing, again. A lot of people aren’t in favor of this, but I am of the opinion that any coach deserves the right to have one of his experiments fail before we criticize. The weird injury circumstances of Crosby, Malkin and Jordan Staal last season never allowed Bylsma to deploy a regular line with Staal centering Malkin as the right wing. So, maybe we should all agree to see if it can work before ripping it – though, personally, I’m somewhat more intrigued of Malkin centering Staal as the left wing; but, I’m not an NHL coach, with good reason.

(Heck, I’m two weeks removed from knee surgery and still looking for clearance to drive, so I’m not a lot these days.)

= I’m beginning work on a project for the Trib that will take up most of my remaining summer days. Josh Yohe – on Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib – will be handling team-related news. Quite capably, too.

I may chime in on the blog here and there, but for the most part my attention will be elsewhere. And I’m sure many Penguins fans need a breather, anyway. #BuccoWatch, anyone?





Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.


  1. tomas says:

    Jagr doesn’t prize money above all else because he could have taken the huge offer the Edmonton Oilers offered him in 2008 after his contract wasn’t renewed by the Blueshirt Blunderers. Jagr craves location (Manhattan in this case) and big money to go along with it. His agent did everything possible to get the New York Rangers to take him back but GM Glen Sather wanted no part of him. He then took the Philadelphia option because its close to New York and he will be the big offensive star (so his ego has told him) with Richards+ Carter traded and get most if not all of the spotlight and then comes the the extra $1.3 million. Jagr led the Pens and the fans on for more than 3 years all in an attempt pressure the New York Rangers in taking him back. When Philadelphia turns out to be even a worst nightmare for the old faded Jaromir Jagr than Washington DC ever was, it will be Pens fans everywhere that will get the last laugh at the clown from Kladno.

  2. Nate says:

    Malkin should center Staal’s line. Malkin looked confused at wing and is better carrying the puck up the ice. Staal should just switch to the center’s duties in the defensive zone. Malkin plays lazy defense, so it’s not like his wings haven’t been doing that ever since he won the Conn Smythe, anyway.

  3. Elle says:

    Plenty of Flyers fans I’m talking to are less than thrilled with this signing and begrudgingly respect the Pens for pulling their offer. The Flyers and Jagr are like two crazy, impulsive kids having a fling and eloping to Vegas without a plan. They’re going to wake up tomorrow, hungover and wondering what in the world they’ve done and why everybody’s angry and wants to disown them. Cheers to the happy couple!

  4. Nicholas says:

    It will be VERY interesting to see how this will all turn out in Philadelphia. To be honest, in Pittsburgh he would’ve been nothing more than a third liner and possibly work on the power play. However, the skills he would bring to the man advantage (if he still possesses these skills) definitely clash with the guys he would be skating with. Since Philly dumped their first line, Jags may get some first line duties, and there has been no evidence that he is worthy of playing on ANYONE’S first line this season. I think these may have been the factors that brought him back to the NHL.

  5. Jamesferrel says:

    I am happy the Penguins pulled their offer before Jagr made any decision. The fact that his agent stated he couldn’t be located and hours before stated his heart was in Pittsburgh speaks wonders. Jagr hasn’t changed one bit or gorown up. What happened to he would play for a minimum back in the NHL. Jagr is an old man in hockey standards. He will be no Billy Guerin or Mark Recchi maybe a Kovalev. His carreer will end in a fizzle and did nothing to heal wounds from his childish behavior. Unfortunately he will be remembered more for his actions rather than his play. The Penguins would do good to put a red circle over his likeness in the Consol Energy Center. Although I rooted for Jagr while he was here I am happy his number won’t be retired as a Penguin. Jagr would never fit in the new group of young talant that took a pay cut in an effort to keep a team together to win a Stanley Cup. Too bad Jagr wasn’t on the Caps during those years as he would never had won the cup just like Oveckin won’t.

  6. Jamesferrel says:

    Talbot will be missed. Great guy in the locker room. Too bad he wouldn’t setttle for the three year deal. He has doine more in his charity work than ever Jagr did donating any time or money to causes. … maybe his gambling habit no wonder he wantedonly the highest amount offered

  7. Shawn says:

    The two games I saw with Malkin on Staal’s line were plenty…although in all fairness…who would know with TK on that line? Staal and Malkin were united on the same line and for two games, TK acted like it was their job to be his decoy. I don’t remember Geno or Jordan even touching the puck.

    Why does Crosby get everything?

    Before we had Neal, Kunitz was our only legit top 6 winger….Sid got him. Now that we have Neal…Sids get them both?

    Geno gets nothing?

    But all of the fans will demand that he produce as much as Sid, right? Cuz they get paid the same?

    Sid’s game has changed, he’s now the goalscorer…not the playmaker. Kunitz and Dupuis are very good linemates for his style.

    Malkin is a playmaker. Neal needs a playmaker. Malkin needs more than spare parts for linemates.

    Seems like a good fit.

    RE: Jagr.

    Wait until he starts playing like a kid who just wants to go to Chuck E. Cheese after the game…like he did for us in the 2001 playoffs…and see how the Philly “faithful” treat him.

    And I’m sure they’ll (also) be as patient with a fourth line player who couldn’t put the puck in the ocean from the deck of a boat…especially after paying him almost two million a year.

  8. David says:

    I´m not happy that Jagr agreed with Philadelphia, but the thing he always said was, that he wants to know, that the club wants him and I mean really wants him and from the contract and talkings, he didnt feel it. I know fans wanted him in Pittsburg, even fans here in Czech republic wanted him to be penguin again, than canadian, because of Plekanec (worked well with Jagr at world champinoship) and than everyone else.

    If it was only about a greed, he would be still in Russia.

    Another thing is, that offer from Philly wasn´t the best and there where higher offers. But the offer from Pittsburg was the worst of all.

    Of course we can argue, that he said, he would play for Mario for minimum wage, but even the contract is a sign if the club wants you or more importantly how much. Offer him the contract, which in the end turned to be worst, and wait if he will stand to the words in one media article is like saying: “Ok,you can play at our club, but its just because you played for so long here and did good”. And thats, why he didn´t take it.

  9. Andy says:

    Think of how much Staal has matured as a player since he was last really tried at left wing. I completely agree that the Pens should give it a shot for a bit. If none of the experiments work out we’ve got, the Cooke Staal Kennedy line locked up for 2 years, go Shero!

  10. Suzanka says:

    The issues surrounding Jaromir are very complex. In some ways, his life is a tragedy. I don’t believe that Jaromir prizes money above all else. I have worked as a counselor specializing in manic depression and I have followed Jaromir’s career since he joined the Penguins back in 1990. After observing him for twenty years I would say with 99% certainty that Jaromir is manic depressive, that is – he suffers from Bipolar Disorder.

    During a manic phase the person can feel invincible and it can lead them to engage in self destuctive behavior. Ex. Racking up speeding tickets and even losing their license. Gambling away much of their savings. Engaging in risky sexual behavior. Making bad business investments. Jaromir has done virtually all of these things and more. In a manic phase the person also tends to bristle if anyone criticizes their behavior.

    During a period of depression the person will suffer from exhaustion despite sleeping for hours. They will usually move and speak slowly, and they will also frequently gain weight. Their ability to work productively, and their social functioning, will also be extremely impaired. Throughout his career Jaromir has been plagued by all of these symptoms. When he dared to express these feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness to the media he was derided for it.

    When he was battling the mental and physical sluggishness that accompanies depression, and the lapses of memory and concentration that frequently go hand in hand with them, he was criticized for slacking off at practices. And, most famously, when he stated that he felt like he was ‘dying alive’ people actually laughed or accused him of being a drama queen.

    It is far more likely that Jaromir’s depression had grown so severe he was beginning to experience suicidal thoughts. This is not a laughing matter. This disorder is never something to joke about. Regrettably, in Jaromir’s country, there is still a major stigma concerning mental illness. This is why he refused the help of a sports psychologist when the Penguins suggested he speak with one and why he has probably never been seen by a psychiatrist or put on any type of medication that might help him.

    But this isn’t Jaromir’s only issue – and it’s not the one that is threatening to destroy his relationship with the Penguins Organization and Mario Lemieux. After watching him, reading every interview, as well as reading his autobiographies and making extensive notes – I also feel fairly confident in saying that Jaromir appears to have severe emotional issues concerning his relationship with his father. What does this have to do with the Penguins and with Mario?

    Jaromir has spent his entire life desperately trying to win his father’s acceptance and approval. His father meanwhile has consistently, and deliberately, withheld it from him. He credits his father with teaching him everything about hockey – how to skate, how to stick handle, etc. – but from Jaromir’s very first game, this same father also criticized his son unmercifully, dissecting every game he played.

    Jaromir said, “I could have scored five goals during a game, and in the car on the way home, I would have felt like I was the worst one on the ice.” Jaromir’s mother Anna admitted that the constant criticism became so bad she issued an ultimatum and wouldn’t even allow her husband to discuss hockey with Jaromir on the way home from games.

    On the subject of her husband Anna lamented, “According to him, Jaromir does everything wrong – he does not even have to be on the ice to screw something up.” It is telling that, despite everything he has accomplished over the course of his career, when somebody asked Jaromir if his father was proud of him, he could only say – I think I made him happy once, when we won the Stanley Cup.

    The Czech culture Jaromir was raised in is also conservative. Criticizing ones parents or expressing ingratitude is not tolerated the way it is here in America. Based on his own childhood recollections, Jaromir was a very sensitive, withdrawn, artistically inclined boy. While Bipolar Disorder often doesn’t begin to manifest itself until the afflicted person is in their late teens or early twenties, as children they are already genetically predisposed to it.

    The constant criticism and rejection from their own father would have been difficult for any child to endure, but for one with a strong predisposition towards becoming manic depressive later in life – the results can be catastrophic. By the time he was an adolescent, Jaromir was probably harboring a great deal of frustration, resentment, anger, and depression concerning his relationship with his father.

    However, his cultural conditioning most likely prevented him from ever expressing those thoughts and feelings to his father. He has probably attempted to suppress them for years, but issues like this cannot be repressed. Eventually they leak out, often with devastating, unintended consequences. Tragically, the Penguins Organization, and Mario Lemieux in particular, have bourn the brunt of Jaromir’s misplaced anger.

    Mario is the key to Jaromir’s damaged psyche. From birth, through their first years of life, a child’s parents are the center of their universe, akin to Gods. Jaromir was still a child, 13 yrs. old, the first time he saw Mario and he acknowledged, “From the moment I laid eyes on him, he became my hockey hero.” This is an understatement. Upon being drafted by the Penguins, Mario took on an iconic role for Jaromir. In his autobiography he even confesses that throughout his entire rookie season, he kept a picture of Mario in his wallet.

    He rarely even referred to Mario by name. When he was finally able to attempt interviews in English, Jaromir simply referred to Mario as God or would say that Mario was like God to him. He also described Mario as being “like my teacher” and everybody referred to him as Mario Jr. just as he shares the same name with his father. He still says that he owes his entire hockey life to his father…and to Mario. I suspect it is this connection in Jaromir’s mind that produced the massive fall out of the last week.

    Consciously, or subconsciously, Jaromir began to see Mario as a second father, forming the very type of relationship with him that Jaromir was desperately seeking with his own father. During Jaromir’s rookie season Mario would sometimes sit next to him during games and the comments he made were never condescending. Instead, according to Jaromir, Mario would offer him advice and encouragement. Unfortunately, this also placed Mario in a prime position to be the recipient of Jaromir’s repressed issues with his father.

    During his tenure with the Penguins Jaromir acknowledged that Mario was the only player he could never beat i.e. he was never quite good enough – the same message drilled into him by his father throughout his childhood. As with his father, Jaromir also found the thought of failing Mario in some way – agonizing. These two contradictory issues: the fear of disappointing his father and being told by his father that even his best would never be good enough must have left Jaromir feeling as though he were in a no win situation.

    When all of those repressed negative emotions rose to the surface Jaromir was unable to direct them at the person who truly deserved it, but Mario the “surrogate father” was there. The fact that he wasn’t a blood relation, and the seven year age difference having prevented them from forming a more “brotherly” attachment, these crucial differences enabled Jaromir to give himself permission to express those feelings – and he did. His relationship with Mario frayed and he made it clear that he wished to be traded – effectively rejecting Mario and the Penguins Organization in the same way his own father had so often rejected him.

    Virtually the same scenario played itself out again this past week. Regardless of what GM Ray Shero, Coach Dan Bylsma or Mario himself did or did not say, Jaromir was apparently left feeling that the Penguins and, by extension Mario, didn’t really want him. The presence of Sidney Crosby adding a “displaced sibling” scenario into the mix could have triggered a very real, but irrational fear in Jaromir – that his “father” Mario no longer loves him as much as he once did. If that is the case, the same desire to hurt his “father”, to reject him, could have been triggered all over again.

    Is there any way relations between the Penguins Organization and Jaromir can be repaired? Yes, but it will require the Pens Organization and their fans to understand one thing. The origins of Jaromir’s temperamental behavior most likely stem from the manic depression and the sheer amount of self loathing he is burdened with. Never forget, behind the smiles, the joking, he is still very much the troubled man who labeled himself “a piece of shit” when talking to the media.

    Often, children who grow up being verbally abused and rejected on a daily basis by one of their parents develop a self destructive coping mechanism. We see it all the time in therapy. The patient erroneously believes that if the rejecting parent did not love them, nobody else can possibly love them either. They have so little self esteem, and are so afraid of being rejected again, that they lash out at the very people who truly care for them the most, determined to punish and reject others before they can be hurt themselves.

    They are effectively trying to provoke others in order to reinforce their image of themselves i.e. ‘If Mario doesn’t want to speak to me again, I must not have mattered to him that much in the first place. I must be a real jerk.’ The best thing the Penguins Organization and Mario can do is simply be willing to leave a door open, to send Jaromir the message – as much as you might want this Organization, this Owner, this City, to hate you – you will always have a special place here. And maybe, God willing, one day you will finally believe us when we tell you how much we care for you.

  11. sabu says says:

    I STILL cant believe those cross state idiots actually traded Carter and Richards. especially that dirty B@#&$(d Richards. they cut the heart out of that team.

    That said, down the road some, Jeff Carter would be a good fit here. He’s a consumate Penguins type player….

    Bucco watch????? please…..major league basebore…… SUCKS.

  12. Paul says:

    As usual, the “bandwagon jumping, don’t know a thing about hockey,” Pens fans want Jagr, then when he signs with Philly, he becomes a no good Philly clown, and nobody wanted him in the first place. As for his somehow letting down the Penguins organization, GET REAL. ITS A BUSINESS. Jagr has an agent to get him the best deal. Is anybody mad at the Penguins for not paying Max Talbot whatever he wanted for 5 years. (After all, he won them the Stanley Cup.) No. The fans say that the Penguins made a smart business decision. It constantly amazes me that many Pittsburgh fans feel that if a player doesn’t want to be here, they are crazy or stupid or selfish for going for more money elsewhere.

  13. Steve says:

    Jagr is not a Penguin or a Redwing because the contracts the respective teams were offering,were pulled. Both teams gave a deadline, the deadline came and went. Both said they would leave the offers on the table until it became a requirement for them to “look elsewhere”. The Pens announced the signing of Kennedy then promptly pulled the offer to Jagr, 30 min. later the Wings done the same. 2 hours later Jagr was a Flyer. I think Jagr seen the writing on the wall. He knew his value was slipping fast and he jumped at the money in the East. Bottom line, the Pens pulled the offer from Jagr, leaving him no chance of signing there. Remember,it was Shero that didn’t show any interest in him from the begining and it was Shero that told him no deal.

  14. Steve says:

    Everyone is hell bent on Malkin or Staal becoming a wing. Anyone ever give any thought to making Crosby a wing?
    Like him or not, Jagr is a first ballot HOF. My point? Try Crosby on the wing if he’s a bust put him back at center if he’s the real deal on the wing let him there to possibly overtake Jagr’s records at In all seriousness though, wouldn’t it make at least a little sense to have all three play a wing at some point? Mario on Ron Francis’ left wing worked out rather well didn’t it?

  15. Shane says:

    Isn’t it obvious by now that Jagr chose Philly because it’s an hour and a half from Atlantic City?

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