The Penguins offered $2m. Detroit offered more.
But Philadelphia offered 30 pieces of silver. Tailor-made for a Judas.
I've always hated when Pittsburgh fans booed Jaromir Jagr every time he touched the puck as an opposing player. But now he'll richly deserve it, and then some. Maybe he deserved it all along. Joining the ONE TEAM a Penguins legend should NEVER join shows how little regard he has for his Penguins legacy, and indeed for Mario Lemieux.
Forget the alumni golf outing. Forget retiring No. 68. Forget all the pleasantries exchanged. Jagr is dead to me. He should be dead to you. Dead to the Penguins. Dead to Mario.
Some things are bigger than cash, especially a lousy $1.3m. That's how much more Jagr will make in Philadelphia than he'd have made in Pittsburgh. That's butt-wipe money, especially when we've been told for two weeks that Jagr's "heart is in Pittsburgh" and he "owes Mario everything." If all that was EVER true, this decision should have been made LONG ago.
But it wasn't. We believed it, and we got LeBron'd. Hossa'd, if you like.
The Penguins bought it. GM Ray Shero withdrew the team's offer to Jagr, but that was just a face-saving gesture when the inevitable became obvious. The Penguins thought Jagr was a done deal. They had an elaborate website welcome-back tribute prepared DAYS AGO. Mario told close friends Jagr was a LOCK.
But Jagr and his sneaky agent, Petr Svoboda, were merely giving Pittsburgh the okie-doke. It was disrespectful to the Penguins and especially disrespectful to Mario, who should give Jagr an earful but won't. Not his style. It was Jagr at his worst: Manipulative, cunning, duplicitous, two-faced, mercenary. Everyone who blasted him was right. Jagr used the Penguins like a Kleenex.
It would have been distasteful had Jagr gone anywhere else. But PHILADELPHIA?
In English football, players don't move between Liverpool FC and Manchester United. JUST DON'T. You can't play for the old enemy. Fans of your old club see you as a turncoat. Fans of your new club can't quite wipe away the stigma.
Playing for the Flyers is the ultimate insult. When Jagr first skates onto Consol Energy Center's ice as a Flyer - a ****ING FLYER - it's going to be like the Roman Colosseum. Hate will be palpable. Sound will have feel. Dec. 29, 2011. Happy birthday to me. Brooks Orpik seems most likely to give me what I want.
I've long been Jagr's emotional shield locally, on radio and in print. No more. Like I said, he's dead to me. Have at him. Whatever happens can't be bad enough.
The Tyler Kennedy deal was reasonable: Two years, $4m. It might even be a bit below Kennedy's market value, but Pittsburgh is an outstanding fit. Can Kennedy be a top-six forward? I suspect we're going to find out.
The pressure is on James Neal. He's perceived as a goal-scoring wing, but tallied just twice in 27 games as a Penguin last season. Most have Neal penciled in on Malkin's left side, but A) I'm not sure the Malkin-to-wing idea is dead and B) I hear Crosby wants to get a spin with Neal.
It may now be inevitable that Shero has to deal a defenseman for a wing. Not today, not tomorrow, but certainly by the trade deadline. The Penguins just don't have enough top-six forwards.
UPDATE: Max Talbot to the Flyers. Five years, $9m. **** you, too, Max.