I touched a little on this in a story for tomorrow’s paper, but it’s worth mentioning again:
While it certainly shouldn’t be a surprise that Jaromir Jagr gets booed in Pittsbugh — his tenure there didn’t necessarily end well — it is unfortunate given the role that franchise has had in his career. And it’s also unfortunate given Jagr’s clear reverence for the Penguins’ patron saint, Mario Lemieux.
As he usually does, Jagr spoke glowingly of Lemieux today. And when asked to compare Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to Lemieux, Jagr deferred to his mentor.
“I don’t think they’re better than him and I say that with all respect to them because the game has changed,” Jagr said. “The thing is, the gap between the best players and the worst players on a team is small compared to what it was.
“The gap between Mario and the rest of the guys when I was Pittsburgh was huge. He was able to score 20 points in one playoff series. I don’t think those kids are able to do that. Maybe I’m wrong and if I’m wrong I’m going to apologize and tell them, ‘Great job.’ But that’s the difference between the 90s and the teams I played on and today.
“He was able to win hockey games by himself. I remember some games we won 6-5 and he scored six points. The next game we won 5-3 and he scored give points. But the league has changed. You can do it once in a while, but not every night like him.”
Some other updates on a rare night without hockey:
<li>A number of you have contacted me about tickets for the Rangers games in Prague next fall (not under the impression that I might have any, but that I might know how to get them).
The latest update from the Rangers is basically there is no update. The promoters in Prague are still working out the details, and when tickets do go on sale, the majority of them will be for the general public — although there certainly will be some set aside for various groups and VIPs.
When I have more information, I’ll be sure to pass it along.
<li>Colton Orr is healthy and available to the Rangers on Friday night according to Tom Renney.
As for whether Renney uses him, that’s another story. There are a couple of considerations: One is the extent to which Renney will uses his fourth line. If he uses it in a shut-down role against Sidney Crosby, which he did during the regular season, he then has to consider whether Orr is better suited for that role than Ryan Hollweg (I don’t see Fred Sjostrom coming out – or at least he shouldn’t in my opinion). Hollweg is a better skater, but Orr keeps things simpler.
Of course, Orr also hasn’t played for close to a month, which could be a deterrent. I remember last year Renney plugged Karel Rachunek back into the line-up against Buffalo after missing the first round with a knee injury, and it was a disaster.
The last consideration is what the Pens have in store for George Laraque. If this were the regular season, a heavyweight like Laraque playing for the opponent would mean Orr has to play for the Rangers. This year at least it hasn’t even been debatable.
The playoffs are different. I don’t know how much you need your enforcer in the line-up in games when teams are very reluctant to spend any time in the box. So if that’s the only purpose Orr would serve, it doesn’t seem worth it.