Contrary to other reports, some even by myself, it appears that the Rangers are closer to bringing back Jaromir Jagr and Sean Avery then originally thought.
After reading an article in the New York Post, I was happy to see that even though contract negotiations are not in the works just yet, there seems to be no negative tension between parties, something that the media had been building up over the last few weeks.
Regarding Jagr coming back, here's what Larry Brooks said:
"It's not going to be about the money. Jaromir Jagr will be able to command more money in Russia, much more money, and he knows it."
"Instead, Jagr's return to the Rangers hinges on the comfort level he, Glen Sather, and Tom Renney arrive at concerning his function within the team structure designed by the head coach."
Like I said, it was never about the money with Jagr—rather, it's about his surroundings, and how comfortable he feels. This quote by Glen Sather makes the outlook even brighter:
"Just saying you want somebody back doesn't mean it's going to happen, I met with Pat Brisson (Jagr's agent) here this week. I said I want him back and I know that Jaromir wants to come back. Pat assured me he wants to come back. He said all of the right things. I know Jaromir was at the training center a couple of times last week, and I'm anxious to see him when I get back. I'll see if I can arrange a face-to-face meeting this week when we have our camp for our draft picks."
But the Jagr situation isn't as simple as just signing him. Jagr is the face of the team, and his style of play dictates how the Rangers play. If Jagr re-signs, then Straka will be brought back, and free agents who play styles similar will be signed.
If Jagr is not signed, then Straka will not be brought back—and the Rangers will go in a whole new direction in the free agency period, focusing around their two marquee centermen.
Which would be for the better? We'll just have to wait and see.
As for Sean Avery, it has just been made known now that the Rangers could have traded him at the deadline to the Ottawa Senators, who offered winger Chris Kelly to the Rangers in exchange for Avery.
Kelly, who plays the same type of game, would have been a good replacement for him. Now, Sather isn't stupid. I have to believe that if he knew that he wouldn't be able to re-sign Avery, that he would have made this trade.
This only makes one thing certain—the next couple of weeks are going to be really exciting in New York!