Did the Flyers Mishandle Jaromir Jagr This Past Offseason?

Did the Flyers Mishandle Jaromir Jagr This Past Offseason?

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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Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

NEW YORK -- John Wall had 29 points and 13 assists, scoring Washington's final four points in the last 32 seconds as the surging Wizards beat the New York Knicks 113-110 on Thursday night.

Otto Porter Jr. made six 3-pointers for the second straight night and added 23 points, but the Wizards needed big plays from Wall down the stretch to win their fourth in a row.

He made two free throws to put Washington back on top after New York had rallied to take a 110-109 lead, then rebounded Carmelo Anthony's miss and left all the Knicks in his dust as he raced down the floor for a dunk with 13.7 seconds to play.

Anthony finished with 34 points but Wall stole the ball from Brandon Jennings to prevent the Knicks from attempting a 3-pointer that could have tied it (see full recap).

Leonard scores 34 to lead Spurs over Nuggets
SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points, rookie Dejounte Murray added a season-high 24 and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a pregame injury to Pau Gasol in beating the Denver Nuggets 118-104 on Thursday night.

Denver's three-game winning streak was snapped despite a career-high 35 points from Nikola Jokic.

Leonard had his fifth straight 30-point performance, right after learning he will start for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season.

The Spurs were unexpectedly without Gasol, Tony Parker and then coach Gregg Popovich. Gasol and Parker were both late scratches due to injury, and Popovich was ejected for the first time this season.

Gasol broke the ring finger on his left (non-shooting) hand by jamming it against Kyle Anderson's shoulder during pregame warmups while attempting a running hook. The 16-year veteran center immediately clutched his hand and left the court.

X-rays revealed the break, and the Spurs said there is no timeline for Gasol's return.

Irving, James lead Cavs over Suns
CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving scored 26 points, All-Star teammate LeBron James had 21 points and 15 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers looked more like themselves at home in a 118-103 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

The Cavs were back in Quicken Loans Arena following a six-game road trip (their longest of the season) that concluded with an embarrassing 35-point loss at Golden State. But on their home floor, they had better offensive balance and ball movement while improving to 30-11 -- the same record Cleveland had at the halfway point of its 2016 NBA championship season.

Channing Frye scored 18, Iman Shumpert 17 and James Jones 14 while filling in for star forward Kevin Love, still bothered by back spasms.

Tyson Chandler had 22 points and 16 rebounds, but the Suns lost for the fourth time in five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Andre Burakovsky, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist to lead the Washington Capitals to a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Jay beagle, Brett Connolly, Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams also scored, and Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Winnik each had two assists to help Washington earn at least a point in its 12th straight game (10-0-2) for an NHL-best 66 points.

Braden Holtby bounced back from his roughest outing of the season with 22 saves. Holtby was pulled after giving up a season-high five goals on 26 shots in an 8-7 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Monday. He improved to 22-8-4 and 5-0 lifetime against St. Louis (see full recap).

Grabner scores 2 goals, Rangers top Leafs
TORONTO -- Michael Grabner scored two goals against his former team, helping the New York Rangers snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei and J.T. Miller added goals for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves following a series of rough outings.

Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto, which had a three-game winning streak stopped. The Maple Leafs had earned 21 of a possible 26 points in their previous 13 games (10-2-1). Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 40 shots (see full recap).

Tavares leads Islanders to shutout of Stars
NEW YORK -- Getting a new coach this week didn't change things much for the Islanders -- and oddly enough, that's a good thing for New York.

John Tavares narrowly missed out on his second hat trick in a week, Thomas Greiss got his second straight shutout and the Islanders beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Thursday night in their first game since firing longtime coach Jack Capuano.

New York canned Capuano in the middle of his seventh season Tuesday, replacing him on an interim basis with Doug Weight (see full recap).

Niederreiter, Wild dodge letdown, edge Coyotes
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Nino Niederreiter had two power-play goals and an assist, including the go-ahead score for the Minnesota Wild with 7:06 remaining in a 4-3 victory over Arizona on Thursday night after the Coyotes came back from a two-goal deficit.

With Shane Doan in the penalty box for hooking, Niederreiter knocked in a nifty redirect of Mikael Granlund's slap shot for the winner. Devan Dubnyk stopped 20 shots for the Wild, who are 18-2-2 in their last 22 games.

Louis Domingue made 21 saves for the Coyotes, who lost their fourth in a row and fell to 2-12-1 in their last 15 games starting with a 4-1 loss to Minnesota in Arizona on Dec. 17 (see full recap).