One of the top criticisms of
the Flyers this year has been the front office’s inability to replace several key
players who left during the offseason. Among the key subtractions was Jaromir
Jagr, who happens to be making his return to the Wells Fargo Center with the
Boston Bruins on Tuesday night.
Jagr signed a one-year, $4.5
million contract with the Dallas Stars back in July, a departure that cost
Claude Giroux one of his linemates, not to mention an influential figure in the
locker room. Probably not coincidentally, the Flyers’ offense has struggled mightily
at times this season, and they’ve dipped in scoring from tied for second in the
NHL a year ago to 11th in 2013.
The fact that several Flyers
hoped general manager Paul Holmgren would swing a deal for Jagr at the trade
deadline was telling of how highly his former teammates in Orange & Black
thought of his contributions to the club. Philly never held serious discussions
with the Stars though, and they eventually shipped him to Boston.
Of course, it didn’t have to
go down like that in the first place. If Flyers wanted to keep Jagr, they had
their chance this offseason, but the future Hall of Famer would later tell a
reporter Holmgren was too busy chasing big-money free agents.
"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."
Did the Flyers invest too much
time and energy in Parise and Suter? To be fair, almost every team in the NHL
probably at least inquired about one or both of them, if not pursued them on
some level. However, both players did drag their feet while reaching a decision,
one in which Philly never seemed to be a genuinely serious consideration.
And just how important was
Jagr to the Flyers really? At the time, it didn’t seem like a crippling loss. Jagr
appeared to slow down as the season wore on, and his scoring pace definitely
declined, from .97 points per game over the first three months of the 2011-12 season
to .56 in the final four.
Even now that there isn’t really
much doubt they would be better off today with Jagr than without – especially given
the quality season he’s had (16 goals, 18 assists) – was that the one missing
link for the Flyers this year? Probably not, but if you can make a case Jagr could
have been the difference between a playoff berth or an early tee time, then
maybe he should still be here.
Nothing anybody can do about it now, and hindsight is always 20/20. Just a little food for thought
with three games to go.
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