Fans of the Pittsburgh Penguins have exactly zero reasons to boo Jaromir Jagr. Yet every time he has touched the puck during his return to the Steel City, the boo birds have been aimed at the 39 year old winger.
If Jagr had left in an Eric Lindros or Kyle Turris-type situation, I could understand the Pittsburgh faithful giving it to Jags every time he touched the puck, but that simply wasn't the case. In the 2001-2002 season Mario Lemieux un-retired, thus pegging the (then) small marker Penguins with two salaries they couldn't afford.
All other factors aside (rumors of a rift between Jagr and Lemieux, a similar gap between Jagr and head coach Ivan Hlinka) the Penguins made a hockey decision. The organization chose to deal Jags to the Washington Capitals for what amounted to a pile of junk.
The team made the choice here. The Penguins decided to go in another direction with Lemieux as the no-questions-asked captain, and Jagr was shipped to the Caps.
Forgive me if I don't understand the bad blood here, a decade after the fact. Jagr was viewed by some as a moody and enigmatic player. I understand that.
Yet during this summer, plenty of Pens fans were excited about the possible return of No.68.
Instead of re-upping with the team that spurned him 10 years prior, Jagr decided to join the rival Philadelphia Flyers. That in and of itself may be enough reason to boo Jagr, but the act still comes across as short sighted.
Jagr currently sits behind Lemieux in every major offensive category in Penguins history and helped the team win back-to-back Stanley Cups to open the 90's. I don't see a whole lot to be sour about here.
Unless, of course, Pittsburgh fans felt shunned a bit after Jagr chose to make his comeback with the Flyers. To which I respond: maybe now you know how he felt. Booing one of the greatest players in the history of your franchise over something is just ridiculous.
I guarantee you that Penguins fans who owned Jagr or Lemieux sweaters before Crosby and Malkin broke into the league aren't at this game booing. They're still in awe of his size and dominating talent, and are thankful they were able to watch him pile up more than 1,000 points in over 800 games played as a Penguin.
I don't expect Pittsburgh to roll out the red carpet for Jags or put on a video tribute for him, but clueless fans who weren't even around in 2001 have no reason to be booing Jagr.
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