Ok kids, the rumour won’t die, so I’m forced to write about this again. If you want to read my first take, click here.
1- Habs need size up front
Yes, Jagr is big, but so was Peter Popovic. When folks say that a team needs size, it’s also implied that the size comes with grit and nastiness. Jagr brings neither. The Habs need a guy who can throw a few punches, score goals and lay the body. Is Jagr that guy? Was he ever? Nope. Yes, he can protect the puck and stick handle and shoot. Big deal, so could Alex Kovalev.
2- Mercenaries needs not apply
Jagr apparently wants to play with 5 teams (Montreal, Detroit, New York, Pittsburgh, Washington). Note how they’re all deep-pocketed teams with the exception of Pittsburgh, who instead just happen to have (hopefully) a recovered Crosby, Malkin and Staal. Want a guaranteed all-star center? Sell your services to the Pens. Otherwise, he’s knocking on the door of teams he’s played for, or that have lots of cash. You want a guy with all world skill, size and previous chemistry with Plekanec? Then go get *gasp* Alex Kovalev (there’s that name again). At least we know he WANTS to be here. And he’d be cheaper. Crazy eh? We’ve been down this road once, and I’m dumbfounded that Habs fans want to venture down it again. Stay away from both players in fact. Besides, do we really have interest in a guy who’s trying to leverage teams and leagues against one another? It’s obvious that he’s trying to squeeze top dollar out of somebody, somewhere. Don’t take the bait.
The Habs are a tight room. Jagr’s mere presence throws that in to chaos with all the attention he’ll bring to himself. He can say all he wants that he’ll be a good soldier, and do his best to help the team. But we know that when things don’t go his way, he sulks, he pouts, and most importantly, he sucks. And he’ll drag his mates down with him. He doesn’t fit with this team in any way. If the NHL allowed for a “special teams player”, then maybe. If he had 6-8 minutes per night on the power play ONLY, then perhaps it could work. On a regular shift, he’s wasting everyone’s time.
4- “The System”
Has Jagr ever met his own goaltenders? Can he name one goalie for any team that he ever played for? How will this guy fare in a demanding Jacques Martin system that requires responsible play without the puck? That demands that he actually presents himself in the defensive zone? Jagr can’t spell backcheck if you spotted him the b-a-c-k-c-h-e-c. Backczech? No, thank you.
He looked good in the Olympics and in the World Championships. Wonderful. He’s also been playing in the KHL for the past several years (for 10 million dollars per year I may add). The KHL is not nearly as rugged or grueling as the NHL is, especially today. There’s less travel and way less games. The KHL’s regular season weighs in at about 50 games. An NHL regular season consists of 82, an increase of more than 60%. Then there’s the playoffs where the tough really get going. The Bruins just played 25 games en route to a Cup win. Added to the 82 game regular season, they played 107 games. Roughly double that of the KHL schedule. How on earth does anyone have confidence that Jagr can simply step back in to NHL action – at 39 years of age, play in a defense-first system, and help the team in areas that he no longer excels in?
6- Habs need even-strength help
Jagr can certainly help a powerplay, I’ll admit that much. But the Habs don’t need help on the power play. They need to learn how to succeed at even strength. The Canadiens were among the very worst teams in the league at even strength scoring. In case you hadn’t noticed, the majority of a hockey game is played at even strength…you’d be well served, and the Bruins just amply proved, to be a team that does well 5-on-5. To do that, they need players who will drive the opposing net, and force other teams to think twice when they retrieve the puck in their corners. Does Jagr fit that bill? Only if you make him do that on your PS3.
It Makes No Sense
Even at a reasonable cap hit on a 1-year deal, I strongly believe that a gamble on Jagr is a wasted one. He addresses none of the Canadiens needs, while at the same time creating new problems and potential controversies. I believe Pierre Gauthier would be wise to give the “thanks but no thanks” reply to Jagr’s agent Petr Svoboda. I think too many Habs fans are under the spell that he can come back in to the NHL and be a 40 goal, 100 point guy again. He can’t. Not in Montreal, not under Jacques Martin, not at 40 years old. He’s not Teemu Selanne. The Habs don’t have Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, or Corey Perry, so don’t cite The Finnish Flash as a guy who can still bring it. This isn’t to say that Jagr can’t fit in with the Pens, or Caps or elsewhere on his wish list. It just can’t work in Montreal. He’s too much of a me-first mercenary that completely flies in the face of the Habs style.
So here’s your turn. Tell me how Jaromir Jagr can help the Habs.