By Joe Starkey, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, June 30, 2011
What is Jaromir Jagr waiting for, a sit-down chat with Jim Gray on ESPN?
The Decision was supposed to go down Wednesday but never did. If Jagr says anything but "Penguins" today, Friday, or whenever he makes up his mind, he will be skewered for centuries to come.
In the meantime, the possible Jagr sequel — "From Russia With Gloves" — has promise. I'm thinking along the lines of "The Godfather Part II" or maybe "Escape From The Planet of the Apes." Quite enjoyable, even if they weren't as good as the originals.
But you have to admit, especially in the wake of The Indecision, that there's a chance this turns into "Caddyshack II," or, God forbid, "Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls."
Look, I'm on board with the Jagr idea. I called for it in early May, when all Jagr had from the Penguins was an invitation to their alumni golf tournament. But let's not pretend it's a two-foot gimme.
Bad memories are surfacing ...
I remember Jagr refusing to take the ice late in the third period during the Ivan Hlinka era ... Jagr demanding a trade ... Wait, what's this?
Jagr handing me a framed photo of himself and asking me to pray to it (actually happened). There are more. Many more.
Let's just say I'm still on board but with trepidation. I am of two minds. Which is fitting, as Jagr was not only of multiple minds but multiple personalities during much of his time here.
Let's put my warring sides in the faceoff circle and see who wins.
SKEPTICAL MIND: Jagr's a new man, eh? Is that what you're peddling?
With apologies to John McEnroe, you cannot be serious. Leopards don't change stripes, buddy. "Yags" was a brooding, finicky brat at 30. Think he's enlightened at 40? He won't be asking for different skates every five seconds, sulking when he goes 12 games without a goal or dragging himself to the bench after a bad shift? He's going to be a leader? Wow. You'll believe anything.
TRUSTING MIND: Oh, you negative media types. First of all, people do change. The same Mario Lemieux who was allergic to exercise when he arrived in Pittsburgh was a workout freak in his second incarnation. Randy Moss didn't make a peep for three years in New England.
Secondly, Jagr does best when he isn't the leader — and nobody wants him to be the Dalai Lama, anyway. The Penguins don't need a higher power. They need a better power play. Put Jagr on the right half-boards. And know that underneath the massive array of defense mechanisms, he always cared about his legacy here. He wants to make right with Mario. He will be supremely motivated. You watch.
SKEPTIC: Grab the Kleenex and cue the violins, you delusional moron. You speak of Jagr's New York years as if he were Mark Messier. Did you know that as recently as 2007 he begged out of shootouts? Would Messier have done that? You also failed to mention that he napalmed the Capitals' dressing room when he was there.
He couldn't even score 20 goals in the KHL, by the way, so what makes you think he'll score 30 in the NHL? You're buying into the fairy tale and ignoring reality. This would end badly, perhaps before Christmas. Repeat after me: The Penguins wouldn't be getting the Jagr of '98.
BELIEVER: Nor would they expect the Jagr of '98. His game never was dependent on speed. He uses that monster frame to control the puck down low. He can still fire it, too. The vision and hands remain.
Did you see that hat trick against the U.S. in the World Championships? Did you see what U.S. captain Mark Stuart said of Jagr? "He's still got it."
Of course he does. And for whatever issues he might have, Jagr is no dummy. I remember Kevin Constantine telling me that even when it looked as if Jagr were in la-la land during meetings, he'd have clearer recall than any of his teammates.
Jagr knows what would be at stake here — his Pittsburgh legacy. He wouldn't blow that.
If he ever makes up his mind, that is.
Read more: Starkey: Possible Jagr sequel already compelling - Pittsburgh Tribune-Review http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/s_744570.html#ixzz1Qm7mdyV7