Update: At your suggestion, see the new Jagr poll to the right. Vote early and often!Â
In the midst of this Jaromir Jagr scoring drought, with opinions chiming in from every direction—dump him, light a fire under him, offer him a job as a Madison Square Garden hot dog vendor—what I can’t get past is how I find the whole situation sad.
Look, I understand the need to villify Jagr. Once seen as a moody, highly paid superstar, now he’s seen as a moody, highly paid superstar who doesn’t score any goals.
As recently as last week, I still saw Jagr as a player who, while not dominating games like he used to, was still a couple of fortuitous bounces away from going on a tear.
Now it’s clear Jagr is struggling. Maybe a step slower, maybe not as strong as used to, he often either tries to take on players one-on-one and coughs up the puck, or worse, concedes that he can’t beat players on his own and defers to his teammates.
The guy is trying. If you don’t see that, you’re not watching. But that, too, is sad. It’s sad to see a brilliant, once overpowering talent like Jagr barreling to the net, wacking away at pucks and watching the puck squirt out of his reach. It’s sad to see a guy work hard after practice and still not have anything to show for it.
Larry Brooks was right yesterday when he said Glen Sather at least has to find out “what’s out there for Jagr”:http://www.nypost.com/seven/02102008/sports/rangers/its_time_to_find_out_what_jagrs_worth_183766.htm before the trade deadline.
How can you not? If the player’s contract is going to expire at the end of the season anyway—84 points doesn’t look like it’s going to happen—then you owe it to the future of your team to see what you can fetch in return. But Brooks’ other point seemed to be if Sather can’t bring in anything substantial in return, then it’s not a deal worth making. And sadly, given the rut Jagr is in, other GMs likely aren’t salivating like they used to.
More likely, the Rangers will hold on to their captain, allow him to still attract attention from opposing defensemen, and hope his teammates continue to benefit as a result. And, of course, they hope that he can get going, too.
It’s not impossible. The guy is still an enormous talent, and he will still be an essential player to the Rangers down the stretch. What’s sad, though, is that I even have to make that point.
There was a time not so long ago when that went without saying.