Pittsburgh Penguins: GM Ray Shero Is Right to Keep Jaromir Jagr in the Past

Laura FalconAnalyst IMay 17, 2011

12 May 2001:   Petr Sykora #17 of the New Jersey Devils upends Jaromir Jagr #68 of the Pittsburgh Penguins during the second period of Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals at Continental Airlines Arena at the Meadowlands in East Rutherford, New Jersey.   Digital Image. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Squire/ALLSPORT
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Today, Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Ray Shero announced to the media that former Penguin and current star in the Kontinental Hockey League Jaromir Jagr will not be joining the roster for the 2011-2012 season, clearing up any rumors and speculation of the former star's return to the birthplace of his hockey career.

The news will certainly disappoint the Pens fans who became excited when Jagr spoke fondly of his time in Pittsburgh and his desire to play for a good team, but one that could also use him.

Rumors of his return to Pittsburgh were instantaneous. Traffic to YouTube must have shot through the roof as fans watched some of Jagr's finer moments in the organization.

Fans began reminiscing on Twitter about the early '90s team. This was followed by discussions on who the Pens should trade to make room for Jagr's salary.

But did anyone really believe he was coming back?

Seriously. How many times have we gone through this?

The answer is too many.

In his address to the media, Shero said, "I didn't understand where all this came from. Jagr is not a guy we've spoken about in a couple of years. We talked about him for a little bit after his time with the Rangers (July 2008), but that`s about it."

He continued saying that the team's only correspondence with Jagr included extending an invitation for an annual alumni golf outing that will serve as a reunion of the 1991 Stanley Cup champion team.

"That`s really all there was to it."

I remember a while back when the Pens were announced as hosts of the 2011 Winter Classic and would release another alternate jersey, many fans pushed the idea of bringing back the 1991 jersey design.

It was a popular idea because the jersey itself looked good, reverted back to the classic yellow rather than the dirty-looking Vegas gold brandished on the team's jerseys, and it brought so many memories to the surface.

The idea was short-lived when Mario Lemieux announced that a new design would be used. He didn't want this team to become blurred with the team that became invariably his.

Lemieux's thoughts should propel the minds of Pens fans today.

Let this team be their own team and let's keep the Penguins of the past in the past.

The Pens were given a taste of the past when Shero traded a seventh-round pick for the veteran Alex Kovalev. Like the Jagr talks, this trade brought a bout of nostalgia among Pens fans who remembered the moon-walking winger who played some of his best years in the 'Burgh.

Kovalev could stick-handle and pass like he was 25-years-old, but his production was subpar. With that said, the Pens absolutely were winners in the trade since they didn't lose a significant draft pick.

In the end, the addition or benching of Kovalev wouldn't have made a difference to the Pens who were cleanly beat by the better Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Kovalev experiment didn't work, and I doubt we will see him re-sign.

To me, the resounding message is to remember this is a different team with a different identity. I feel like Pens fans are reaching too far back into the past and thinking that what was once then is now.

It isn't.

Youth has propelled this team forward since Sidney Crosby was drafted and bringing back the happy past isn't how this team will continue on that forward path.

The Penguins organization needs to focus on the now, on Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Marc-Andre Fleury, James Neal, Kris Letang and Brooks Orpik. They are the ones the team will depend on when they need a clutch performance in the final minutes of a game when they're down by one.

Jagr was one of those players once upon a time, but not any more. He had his time as a Penguin, and it was full of positive and negative tones.

But let's pass the pen to the young guys, and let them make their own memories.


Laura Falcon is a Featured Columnist for the Pittsburgh Penguins.      Follow her on Twitter or email her at lfalcon@mail.umw.edu with any comments or questions.


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