Saturday, January 22, 2011

Mailbag: Jagr Reuniting With Rangers

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Liz asks: What about the possibility of bringing back Jaromir Jagr to the Rangers?  Jagr was great when he was here, would give the team another star talent and would help solve the power play.  Seems like a good idea to me.  

Over the past few weeks this discussion seems to be going on among fans about the New York Rangers bringing back Jaromir Jagr this season.  Jagr, 39 next month, is currently playing for Avangard Omsk in the KHL.  On the season he has 16 goals and 23 assists in 41 games.  It is no secret that the Rangers are down on healthy forwards right now, and that as a result their offense is struggling to consistently generate goals.  Combine that with what Liz mentioned and the buzz among some fans is certainly there to have a reuinion. I am not in that group.

I have great respect for Jagr and what he did with the Rangers, but there are many things wrong with this idea.  Jagr is happy with Omsk, so the idea that he would leave there and break his contract is far-fetched to begin with.  The NHL requirement that players who played in a European league this season to pass through waivers would be another hurdle to the process.  Even if he did want to come to New York there is no way he would get to the Rangers in the waiver process.  If guys like Kyle Wellwood are getting claimed and there is this supposed fight for Evgeni Nabokov who no one wanted a few months ago, there is no way that Jagr makes it through waivers.

From the Rangers perspective this move would completely contradict the direction they are taking the team in with the youth, young core and the system.  Jagr was a great player for the Rangers, who carried this team following the lockout, and for that Rangers fans will always think of him fondly.  In his game Jagr played with tremendous strength on the puck and overall skill, but he was not a player made for this system.  Also, for those concerned about integrating the youth, bringing in Jagr is a clear case of stealing a spot from a young player.

This talk is all too common for my taste among Rangers fans who seem to have a nostalgia for bringing back past players numerous times.  Of late I have seen and heard about this idea, the desire to bring Prucha back, people talking about trading for Kovalev again.  The Rangers are moving in the right direction with this focus on youth, so it is time for some fresh names and faces for the fans to focus on as well instead of digging back into the closet.