Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said that it started very innocently.
“I just sent a text to Petr Svoboda, his agent, who also represents Jake Voracek, and I didn’t know who was involved,” said Holmgren. “I read over the last few days it was just Detroit and Pittsburgh were the teams, so I just sent him a text about if Jaromir would have interest in playing for Philadelphia and it just kind of went from there.”
Well, Jagr is definitely happy 'it just went from there'.
After negotiations with several other clubs, the five-time Hart Trophy Finalist and 1999 recipient saw and heard from not just Flyers management but current players that Philadelphia was the right fit for him.
“I didn’t think I was going to go there, but after the conversation with the coaches and Chris Pronger
, I started to like it and I also like that there is something to this from their side, and that was important to me,” said Jagr who also was very insistent that money played no part in his decision as there were other offers for more money on the table.
“I also liked that they made a great move with the goalies before I even signed with them,” added Jagr referring to the Ilya Bryzgalov
signing. “I follow a little bit of the NHL even though I haven’t been there for three years and I know Philadelphia’s defense is very good. There are some guys that when I was the NHL I played against and it was always tough to play against them.
“They’re not only good defensively, but they’re also good offensively, and that’s very important in the new style of the NHL. I’m going to have an opportunity to play a little more than [I would] with other teams.”
What Jagr brings is added scoring depth and the much needed size on along the boards that Holmgren set as his off-season goals.
He stands 6’3’’ and over 200 pounds (240 pounds last reported by the Rangers), while still operating at over a point-per-game pace in the Kontinental Hockey League, scoring 51 points (19G-32A) in 49 games this past season, his last of a three-year deal in the KHL.
In fact, going back the last 10 years in the NHL, Jagr has averaged over a point-per-game in seven of his last 10 years and in eight of his last 10 Stanley Cup Playoff appearances.
There are few out there that are going to question Jagr’s place in NHL history given his 1,599 points still ranking ninth all-time in the NHL.
The question hanging out there for Flyers fans is the fact that he will celebrate his 40th birthday midway through the ‘11-12 season.
“I think over the last few years he’s really taken on an approach where fitness is a real big thing with him,” said Holmgren. “We talked to Peter Laviolette, he wanted to know how our practices were, do we practice a lot, what types of practices do we go through. [He said] I need to be on the ice, honing my skills and working on things, so I think all those things were a positive for us.”
Another positive Jagr sees in the Flyers more so than any team out there is the talent level at center and the opportunity to play a major role in all situations on the ice.
“When I looked, for me, [I looked for] a centerman, a good player like Briere or Giroux, who are right handed, have a right-handed shot,” said Jagr. I like to play power play on the right side, and I think because they’re right-handed, they like to play on the other side.”
Only time, and Flyers’ head coach Peter Laviolette, will tell just how Jagr fits into the newly shaped Flyers locker room. As for the fans of Philadelphia and how they embrace the nine-time NHL All-Star, judging from his own personal statement I would say that everyone from his teammates, the organization and especially the fans have nothing to worry about and plenty to look forward to when training camp begins in September.
“I have only one goal, and that’s making people happy. To make them happy, to those people who believe I can be good. That’s my goal. If I make them happy, I’ll be happy.”