Penguins fans have reacted to to the news of Jaromir Jagr signing with the Flyers with shock, anger and a bit of resentment. After being told his “heart” was in Pittsburgh and that he was interested in on last hurrah in the city where he made his name, it’s understandable that they felt a bit jilted when he spurned them for who they see as their biggest rival.
However, Pens fans have taken solace in the narrative that tells them “it was all about money.” Jagr is a just a greedy modern athlete that only cares about money and the sole reason he went to Philadelphia was for the extra million the Flyers offered him.
That may be comforting to Pens fans, but according to Jagr himself, it’s just not true. In fact, he says he took less money to come to Philadelphia.
Before I start talking, it surprised me when you said money - there were a lot more teams with a higher offer than Philadelphia. I didn’t think I was going to go there, but after the conversation with the coaches and Chris Pronger, I started to like it and I also like that there is something to this from their side, and that was important to me.
What he says really brought him to Philadelphia was the fact that they were simply the best fit.
When I looked, for me, a centerman, a good player like Briere or Giroux, who are right handed, have a right-handed shot. I like to play power play on the right side, and I think because they’re right-handed, they like to play on the other side.I think it would be a problem if I would play in Pittsburgh with Crosby or Malkin, left handed, and have to play on the other side, when I’ve played all my life on the right side, I don’t think I would be able to play there.
And really, this would seem to make more sense than the old “he just went for the money” line. Which, by the way, even if that was the reason so what? But after that has spanned 20 years in which he was given the largest contract in NHL history, it’s hard to imagine that the extra million is really the only thing that mattered to him. And if you believe what he says that there were better offers on the table, then clearly the extra million wasn’t important.
But if it makes Pens fans feel better, we can always just pretend. Boo greedy athletes and their money!
For a full transcript of Jagr's conference call, check out Broad Street Hockey.