On just the third day of free agency this last summer, the most bizarre thing happened. JaromirJagr signed a contract with the Dallas Stars.
Once the fans of 29 other teams got over their disbelief, and we got over our initial excitement (though to be honest, have we really?), the question on everyone's mind was "Why the Stars?" Jaromir Jagr could have chosen to go to any team that he wanted to. It was expected that he would be re-signing with the Philadelphia Flyers for another season more than any other. Choosing the Stars seemingly came out of left field.
There are a couple of obvious reasons that can easily be stated. First, the Stars offered him plenty of money. $4.5 million was more than any other team was likely going to pay him. The second is ice time. The Stars had room for him on the top line and the first power play unit, while those spots may not have been as guaranteed on other teams.
But there is more to it than that, though. Nicholas Cotsonika interviewed Jagr, and believe he understand why he made the choice this summer:
Jagr said you look at hockey a little differently when you're older. When you're young, you don't think about the team. You're more selfish. But when you're older, you want to help the team. You want to do whatever it takes. You don't want to be the guy who made the mistake to lose the game.
You can wonder about that. If it's all about the team, why didn't Jagr go to a team with a better chance to win even if he had to accept a lesser role? Why didn't he stay in Philly?
Well, there is what you do when you choose a team and what you do once you're on one, and this is Jagr. He has a unique perspective, balancing the business and the sport. During the lockout, he played for the team he owns in his hometown of Kladno, Czech Republic. He helped revive a franchise, and he did it not just by showing up to play, but by playing a leading role and scoring 57 points in 34 games.
He loves a challenge. He loves to practice. He thinks age doesn't matter as long as you're healthy, and so he lives near the rink and works out late at night and wears his weighted vest after games. He wants to keep playing a leading role in the NHL before going back to Kladno again.
Sometimes it's not just about the challenge of winning a cup. It's about the challenge of building a team up and putting them into a position to succeed, even if you won't be around to see it. That's the kind of challenge that Jagr is looking for. He is already having that effect on this team, too. Not just with the players, whom he inspires with his ridiculous training regimen, but also the coaches. Because, at nearly 41 years of age, he's seen a lot, and knows how to be successful. And the coaching staff in Dallas is excited to have him help in whatever way he can.
Morning skate, Tuesday. Jagr sat on top of the boards at the Stars bench, running his finger over a rink diagram, discussing strategy with Gulutzan, while the rest of the team went through drills. The Stars hadn't gotten to the net enough in their 1-0 loss to the Wild, and Jagr, the almost-41-year-old vet, was sharing ideas with the 41-year-old coach.
Gulutzan is willing to listen - he tweaked a route on the power play, so Jagr could get the puck in a certain spot with speed the way he likes it - as long as Jagr is willing to do things in return, like commit to stopping, coming back and playing hard defensively.
"It is a give and take," Gulutzan said. "So far we've talked about those openly, what the give and take is, and he's 100 percent on board. He's not 99 percent on board. He's 100 percent on board."
He might only be here for 48 games (who knows, he might even have the legs for a whole other season), but there is no doubt that this team will never be the same thanks to him. The whole piece on Jagr is a fantastic read, and I highly recommend it.
Coming up in the daily links: The Stars finally escape from Detroit, an interesting rebuttal on why we can't afford to be patient in Jamie Benn's contract negotiations, and why exactly does it seem like every team in the NHL is having problems?
- The Stars suffered from even more delays yesterday when tying to leave Detroit. The plane refused to de-ice, and practice wound up being cancelled for the day. Well, at least they should be rested, right? [Stars Inside Edge]
- It seems like every team is suffering from fatigue or injury this season (which you'll see coming up). That is, every team except for one. And wouldn't it be just our luck that we play them today? [Dallas News]
- The last of the details in the ownership transfer to Tom Gaglardi seems to be taken care of, with a major refinancing of all the loans. For those worried about what this means, it's just housekeeping and cleaning up of the mess that Hicks left behind. It will have no effect on spending or managing of the team in any negative way. [Dallas News]
- One fan responded to Mike Heika's article in a well reasoned form, and he makes a proper argument. The longer we wait to sign Jamie Benn, the worse the odds are of a bubble team like Dallas making the playoffs. My question I pose to you is this: Is one season of meaningless playoffs this year worth losing 2 or 3 potential playoff cup runs in the future? [Dallas News]
- I'm not ignorant to the numerous problems the Stars have, but I like to celebrate the good more than lament the bad. And after seeing a Blue Jackets fan this excited, it really helps to put thins into perspective. [Puck Daddy]
- The Los Angeles Kings are the only team in the Western Conference yet to have earned a point this season. If they don't get it together soon, they could be in some serious trouble. [Sports Illustrated]
- In the battle of the winless teams, the Canucks came out on top against the flames last night. Meanwhile, the Coyotes reminded the Blue Jackets just how far they have to go to be competitive. [NHL/NHL]
- The WIld gave up a costly goal last night in their loss to the Preds. This highlight video reminded me briefly of the 1 time out of 100 or so that Marty Turco would misplay the puck, causing us all to cringe in fear. [NHL]
- Want to know why the Oilers lost to the Sharks the other night? Because Ducks fly together! [Twitter]
- Here is a fantastic guide on the players in the NHL that you should be hating. [Grantland]
- The Shanabans are back! Brayden Schenn was suspended for 1 game for charging. I miss the old suspension videos, though, where Shanahan was talking straight at us. [NHL]
- For your video of the day, the WIld gave up a costly goal last night in their loss to the Preds. This highlight video reminded me briefly of the 1 time out of 100 or so that Marty Turco would misplay the puck, causing us all to cringe in fear.