Speaking of Nicaraguan-strongman Anastasio Somoza, Franklin Roosevelt once famously remarked, “He may be a son of a bitch but he’s our son of a bitch.”
While that term may seem a bit harsh to apply to former Penguin Jaromir Jagr, it does reflect the sentiments that many Pens fans had for the talented but enigmatic forward before he forced his way out of Pittsburgh.
Drafted in the first round of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft, Jagr became an immediate star in the NHL and a fan favorite in Pittsburgh. As a vital part of back-to-back Stanley Cup championship teams and the heir apparent to Mario Lemieux, Jagr seemingly had everything a player could ask for.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough.
Despite the hiring of Czech Republic national team coach Ivan Hlinka and the acquisition of as many Czech players as seemingly possible, Jagr still wasn’t happy. Forced with sharing center stage after Mario Lemieux’s return in 2001, Jagr demanded a trade and the Pens reluctantly agreed to move him.
Carrying a massive salary and having been branded a coach-killing malcontent, Jagr saw his value tumble, and the Pens were only able to acquire three prospects from the Washington Capitals in return.
To paraphrase “Pittsburgh Dad,” the trade that sent Jagr to the Capitals was the moment Jaromir went from being Jagr to being just another “jag.”