Puck Daddy correspondent Pavel Lysenkov was able to catch up Jaromir Jagr this week at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, taking the chance to chat with the newest Dallas Star about his time in Philadelphia and his decision to sign with Dallas. As always, Jagr was exceptionally forthcoming and honest and while much of what he said has been pretty much said before there was one very interesting tidbit we took note of.
As Jagr told us immediately after signing with Dallas, the decision to move on from Philadelphia was one created by their focus on the "big names" in the free agent market and Jagr's desire to sign a contract sooner than later.
"I really liked it in Philadelphia, I wanted to stay there. But the Flyers started hunting for the big players on the market - Zach Parise, Ryan Suter. They needed some money under the cap and they said 'Wait a little, Jaromir...' And I didn't want to wait. This is when Dallas came through."
Jagr would follow that up by answering a question about whether he signed with Dallas purely because of the contract the Stars offered. It's a popular narrative, that Jagr merely chased the money and signed with the first team that gave him the fattest contract. Jagr insists that wasn't the case.
"What does money have to do with it? Other NHL clubs offered more! It's just Dallas is ready to rely on me, promised me a spot on the top line."
That has what has been repeated by Jagr several times and what the Stars have stated as well; Jaromir Jagr was signed to play on the first line with Jamie Benn as his center. Jagr was able to help guide Claude Giroux into taking a big step to becoming and NHL superstar and the hope is that Jagr will be able to do the same with Benn, a player with the potential to be one of the NHL's best.
Jagr also talked about the Flyers team and his experience in Philadelphia last season. Thoughts on that after the jump.
"I have never seen a team like the Flyers. Everyone keeps together. Players understand the coach immediately. The year was such that there was nothing to complain about. We played some wonderful hockey. Just remember the series against Pittsburgh in the first round."
This is something that has been sitting in the back of my mind since Jagr signed and had nothing but great things to say about Philly. The Flyers, love them or hate them, certainly embody what a "team" is all about and that is reflected in the no-nonsense approach by Peter Laviolette. He's one of the best coaches in the NHL and he has a reputation (backed up in 24/7) as an abrasive and demanding coach who will not hesitate to come down hard on his team if they disappoint.
Glen Gulutzan is not that sort of coach. And while we love the Stars and the players that have been on this team, it's now becoming clear as we look back that there have certainly been some locker room issues the past four years -- the postseason absences have happened solely because of a lack of talent or payroll. The Stars have taken steps to correct this, moving on from certain core players and signing very significant veterans in an effort to "change the culture" with this team.
Mike Modano himself, perhaps out of frustration over how his time in Dallas ended, spoke specifically of how wonderful a franchise the Red Wings were when he went to Dallas. It was a slap in the face of the Stars, in a backhanded way, and while Modano may have been clouded a bit by the circumstances of his departure there's likely some truth behind what he had to say.
You wonder what Jagr's experience will be here in Dallas. How different it will be in Dallas from how it was in Philly.
The Stars' issues, specifically in this arena, have largely been attributed to a lack of ownership and overall front office support aside from Joe Nieuwendyk -- so it's easy to see how things fell apart the past few years in attempting to create the best atmosphere possible. There' s a good reason the Stars hired Bob Gainey as a consultant as they transition under new ownership and you have to believe that Jagr is a big part of that process.
The hope is that Jagr brings some of what he learned and experience in Philly and help guide the Stars in a similar direction. While the circumstances and players are very different, Guy Carbonneau had a similar role with the Dallas Stars when after joining the team in 1995. The difference, of course, is that Carbonneau played several years with the team as it was being built while Jagr will likely be in Dallas for just one season.
It's something I've been thinking about and it's interesting to see Jagr speak so candidly about that Flyers team and how incredible an experience it was.
Jagr also briefly mentioned his mid-season injury, a groin issue that slowed him for the second half of the season, saying that there was a practice routine he followed that he never should have, backing up earlier statements that he's changing things for this next season.
As far a where Jagr will play if there's a lockout? Looks like he has the perfect team.
"Right now I am training with HC Kladno," Jagr told Lysenkov. "I will play there if there is a lockout in the NHL... It's been a while since I last played in front of my home fans. And I also promised my father that I would play for Kladno. Besides, I am also the owner and the general manager of the team."