Rangers Watch: What happened to Jagr?

Jaromir Jagr is having a disappointing 2007-08 season for the Blueshirts. His 18 goals and 59 points through 70 games have the right winger on pace for his worst statistical season since 1990-91, when he was an NHL rookie.

All of this comes as somewhat of a surprise considering Jagr’s contract status. In the final guaranteed year of the monster deal he signed with Washington ($77 million over seven seasons) in 2001, Jagr needs to hit the 84-point mark and the Rangers need to win a playoff round to trigger an eighth season at $8.36 million.

Jagr’s 1.34 points per game average over the last two seasons suggested 84 points was almost a sure thing this season. But that hasn’t been the case.

Why? Age might be a factor; Jagr turned 36 in February.

Apathy? Maybe; Jagr will have earned nearly $100 million in NHL salary by the end of the season, so another $8 million or so might not mean as much to him as it does to most.

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But the reason most pundits point to is Rangers GM Glen Sather’s decision to change the team’s culture over the summer.

Out was Jagr’s centerman Michael Nylander (as a UFA to Washington). In were high profile UFAs Scott Gomez and Chris Drury, neither of whom Jagr has been able to mesh with.

Some have publicly wondered if Nylander’s departure has led to a season-long Jagr pout. Whether that’s true or not, Rangers fans are hoping that Jagr turns it on over the final 12 games.

He’s still one of the most devastating one-on-one players in the NHL and if the team is to go anywhere in the playoffs, Jagr will have to be at his best.