PHILADELPHIA – Free-agent forward Jaromir Jagr on Friday surprised many around the league, signing a one-year contract with the Flyers.
Jagr, 39, the former NHL MVP who has spent the past three seasons playing in Russia, this week mulled over a one-year offer to rejoin the Penguins, his original team, before ultimately deciding to play on the other end of Pennsylvania.
The Flyers’ deal is worth US$3.3 million. The Penguins’ offer was for $2 million.
Jagr was a Pittsburgh draft pick in 1990, and helped lead the Penguins to two Stanley Cup championships. The franchise’s hope was that he accept the offer, play at least one season in Pittsburgh, and then retire with the team he started with.
But on Friday morning, before the Flyers announced the deal, the Penguins formally withdrew their offer.
“We made what we thought was a very fair contract offer to Jaromir on Tuesday, based on his stated interest of returning to the Penguins,” Pittsburgh general manager Ray Shero said. “We made our best offer from the start, given our salary-cap structure, in an attempt to facilitate a deal. But now, after several days, with an extended time frame for making a decision, and additional teams getting involved, we have decided to move in a different direction.”
As have the Flyers, who last week shipped out high-scoring forwards Jeff Carter (Columbus), and Mike Richards (Los Angeles). Jagr will be looked upon to provide some of that scoring punch. After all, he has 646 career NHL goals, and when he slips on that orange-and-black uniform for the first time next regular season, he will be the NHL’s active scoring leader with 1,599 points.
“Jaromir is one of the greatest players in Penguins history,” Shero said, “and we wish him all the best.”
A Czech native, Jagr won an Olympic gold medal in 1998 and a bronze in 2006. He also won two Ice Hockey World Championships in 2005 and 2010.
Jagr’s agent is former NHL defenceman Petr Svoboda, who, interestingly enough, played five seasons with the Flyers.