I suppose some elaboration is in order for how this whole Jaromir Jagr-Brendan Shanahan thing shook out today, even if it turns out to be nothing more than a curious misunderstanding.
For one thing, as much as I enjoy injecting myself into my daily accounts here, that’s purely for this — a blog, which, while still somewhat uncharted territory, is supposed to be a light-hearted and informal medium for news and insights.
But as a reporter who is still writing objective pieces for a newspaper, it’s not my place to inject myself into a story. And my purpose today when I showed up at the rink was hardly to stir things up. I don’t know if I did that or not. For all I know, the two stars have already sat down and hashed out their thoughts on the power play, and harmony has since prevailed in Rangerland.
But that wasn’t the feeling I got today, and it’s important to understand the chronology.
The starting point, of course, was last week after the loss to Atlanta, when Shanahan went public “with his comments about the power play”:http://rangers.lohudblogs.com/2007/01/20/shanahan-lets-tear-it-up-and-start-anew/. Though Shanahan never said as much at the time, it was clear some of his remarks pertained to Jagr, who is the obvious focus of the power play now, and who has defended that system fairly rigorously in the past. But since Shanahan was the last player in the dressing room after the Atlanta game, the issue had to be put aside until after the All-Star break.
Fast forward to today. Jagr’s walking off the ice, and I harmlessly ask him about what needed to be done to the power play. To be honest, I assumed that if he and Shanahan hadn’t already talked about the issue, Jagr at least knew what Shanahan said, and that he was going to say something fairly innocuous. Instead, Jagr seemed surprised.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m a different player than Brendan,Ã¢â‚¬? Jagr said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t play that way. It might be the solution for somebody. I never played that way.”
I then asked Jagr if there is a middle ground where he can play his style but more pucks are still getting to the net.
“I don’t know. I don’t know,” he said. “I can’t answer. I don’t have a clue.”
Jagr chewed this over for what seemed like five minutes. Then he went on:
“The way I see it, if you want to shoot more on the power play you have to have guys in front of the net. They have to know IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m not good at that. If somebody wants a shooting power play, IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢d rather stay on the bench because IÃ¢â‚¬â„¢m useless.Ã¢â‚¬?
From there came the subject of having two power play units with Jagr on one and Shanahan on the other. Jagr said it might be an answer, and then he referred to Tom Renney.
“Last year we didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t always take shots but we always found the open guy,Ã¢â‚¬? he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The coach has to be responsible. If there is some misunderstanding, the coach should come and say, Ã¢â‚¬ËœLetÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s play this way.Ã¢â‚¬â„¢ Maybe some guys like to shoot and some guys donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t. Some guys are good in some ways. Some guys are better in another way.Ã¢â‚¬?
The conversation lasted a few more minutes and that was it.
Now, a question: why does a reporter then go to Brendan Shanahan and ask him about what Jagr just told him? The answer is to give Shanahan a chance to respond. It’s not to try to blow things out of proportion. It’s merely to make sure everyone’s side is accurately represented. And seeing how Shanahan immediately struck a conciliatory tone, he seemed to understand that this wasn’t something that needed to spin out of coontrol.
“I think results make all players happy,Ã¢â‚¬? said Shanahan, Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think we have to get on the same page, but I think we have to be open to new looks.”
Indeed, Shanahan mentioned many of the same concerns he invoked Saturday, mostly about the power play being too predictable. And for what it’s worth, he, too, said maybe he and Jagr should be on separate units.
“That could happen,” he said. “I’m not opposed to it. Like I said I’m interested in results. So whether we go with two different looks on two different units or we load up one, I’m really just about results and wins.”
Finally, when he was aked if it was important for him and Jagr to talk this over, Shanahan said that it was (it’s worth noting that while I was talking to Shanahan, Jagr walked by and toward the shower. If I was a marriage counselor and not a reporter, I would have asked them to join hands. Instead, I watched Jagr disappear around the corner).
“He’s our guy. He’s the focus of the power play,” he said. “ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s why we need to talk. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care what we do as long as we get results. And if weÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re not getting results, we need to change something.Ã¢â‚¬?
So there you have it, or at least from my end. Like I said, for all I know Jagr and Shanahan are singing around a piano bar at their Philadelphia hotel, and this whole thing is already behind them.
As Rangers fan, you should at least hope as much.