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Dejan Kovacevic's Blog

Pittsburgh sports talk with the Trib columnist

Stunned Penguins left with no other option

Whatever you do, don’t blame the Penguins.

They had every reason to believe that Jaromir Jagr was serious about returning to Pittsburgh, to the point that many were sold on the idea that it was inevitable. If not, they wouldn’t have waited an extra two days. If not, they wouldn’t have doubled what I understand was Ray Shero’s initial intention of offering $1 million. If not, Shero certainly wouldn’t have invoked Mario Lemieux’s name in one last try at getting a message through to Jagr last night. In not, Lemieux wouldn’t be as angry as he apparently is right now.

They thought it was coming.

But it didn’t, and they reacted accordingly. Once the clock struck midnight, Shero absolutely had to turn all of his attention and all of his remaining dollars to the NHL free agency market and whatever possibilities he and his lieutenants hope to pursue there. Especially with Tyler Kennedy just now getting signed to a two-year deal, every measure of flexibility would be needed.

As for Jagr … I’m not left with much more to say than I did in the column this morning. I’m as stunned as the Penguins are right now, as many of the team’s fans are. But maybe we shouldn’t be.

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