It is rather sad to see how on so many Ranger fan message boards that so many are taking to trash Jaromir Jagr for not re-signing with the Rangers OR trashing Jagr for heading to Russia OR trashing Jagr for the Rangers failures on the power play last season OR trashing Jagr for the Mets being an under 500 team.
Alright the last one is not true but all over the Ranger world one is seeing too many people trashing Jagr as if they forgot the contributions that Jagr did for the Rangers during his time there.
Who is at fault for Jagr leaving then? Actually the blame belongs everywhere from the Rangers to the media to the fans to Anatoly Bardin to Mike Milbury and even Jaromir Jagr himself. We can divide the blame into some very nice pieces because there is enough to where one can go back for seconds and thirds.
I start with Tom Renney and his defense first system that handcuffed an offensive weapon like Jagr. Sorry Tom you do a wonderful job developing kids but you screwed up here with Jagr.
Got to say to Renney that when you have a player who has over 600 goals on his resume then you do not stifle him as a player like you did. Jagr for his part did not complain which may have been a side effect of his not wanting to fuel the old Jagr rep as a coach killer.
Jagr should have been given more freedom on offense and allowed more creativity in his game instead of being asked to play in this defense first system. Yes it was nice to see Jagr coming back on defense but at the same time his role is goal scorer and he is not going to score goals when he is behind his own net in the defensive zone.
In keeping with the Rangers, the next person on the list is Glen Sather as he could have started serious talks with Jagr the moment the season ended if he truly wanted to. When Jagr said he was looking for a sign from Sather that he was wanted then you knew that Sather really was not interested in bringing back Jagr.
When I see how much Jagr is getting from Omsk then it is clear that had Sather shown even a tiny bit of loyalty to the player who rescued Sather's era and perhaps his legacy from the sewers. If not for Jagr's carrying the Rangers on his back for the first 2 seasons after the lockout then by now Ranger fans might have torched the Garden to the ground after the 9th straight season without the playoffs.
Hello Glen but tell us all where would you be today if not for Jagr's 54-69-123 season in 2005-06? Please do not say it was Renney's coaching but truth be told other that the Jagr line and a rookie named Prucha the Ranger's offense did not exist.
If not for Jagr Glen then those "Fire Sather" chants would be still filling the Garden every evening. You owed Jagr for that alone.
I have point the next fingers are aimed at the media and the main finger of blame is not at the Ranger beat reporters but those who are considered the national experts. The majority of them only follow a Ranger game when the Rangers are playing a Canadian team or unless you are a classless clown by the name of Mike Milbury.
The New York Post reported that Jagr had this very dead on shot toward Mike Milbury when Jagr is quoted as saying:
"And I also want to say to the people like Mike Milbury who made their living by criticizing me all the time, that they can kiss my [butt]."
And in this respect Jagr had more than every right to say what he did to Mike Milbury after the way Milbury repeatedly trashed him. It seemed that every time a camera was turned on in front of Milbury that the first words he would say was to trash Jagr.
It got to the point where Milbury became a "one trick pony" as you could set a watch knowing that in less than a minute there would be Milbury saying something Anti-Jagr. If anything that it became almost obsessive the way Milbury would look for ways to trash Jagr.
Does anyone want to believe that come next season Milbury will find a way to trash Jagr? Milbury was not alone this past season as Jagr was struggling all of a sudden Jagr was the blame for everything from the common cold to why the sun did not come out.
When I see how there are all these "Jagr is a greedy XXX for choosing Russian money over NHL money", then I wonder if anyone those who wrote what they did are not seeing maybe Jagr got tired of being everyone's whipping boy and went home to Europe.
Nah it is easier to trash Jagr than think of looking at things from his point of view. To see people trashing Jagr for not signing with the Oilers makes me wonder what kind of crack people are smoking?
Quick name another UFA who wanted to sign with the Oilers this summer? It is OK if you have to think long and hard about your response as we are still looking too.
The local Ranger beat reporters do not escape blame 100% either despite how several of them are writing these "Jagr was a great guy, great interview, and a swell fella" articles. Sorry guys I like your reporting but here I have to ask why nobody questioned issues with the Renney system and Jagr until mid-season when it was clear to everyone else in November?
Ah but there are also too many Ranger fans who need to have their head's examined because of their borderline racist Anti-European crap they are spouting. How soon people forget what Jagr did as a Ranger, how it seemed as if Jagr went out of his way NOT to avoid those situations where his past reputations reared their ugly heads.
Jagr was a team player who did his best to help rebuild the bonds between the Rangers and their fans. Who was it that brought over the center ice raising of the sticks to salute the fans from Europe?
Can anyone recall how that when Jagr went down during the Devil's sweep of the Rangers who was it that tried to play with a screwed up shoulder? I opposed the Jagr deal when it went down but even I have to acknowledge that Jagr was nothing like his past.
Then there are those folks who run Avangard Omsk especially their General Manager Anatoly Bardin who truly showed how low class their franchise truly is. Bardin with his publicity seeking announcements while the Ranger season was going on was the textbook example of tampering with a player under contract.
Put it this way had Glen Sather acted the way Bardin did trying to lure Cherepanov from Russia then the entire hockey world would have drawn and quartered Sather. Bardin talked about wanting a working relationship with the Rangers but even the blind saw what his objective truly was which was Jagr.
It is almost impossible now to believe a word that Bardin says about a willingness to work with the Rangers. The Rangers are bound by a CBA from going after Omsk players with a contract but boy if there was ever a reason to return the favor this was it.
Then we have to also point the finger at Jagr himself because as much as Jagr contributed to the Ranger's return to the playoffs at the same time; Jagr is just as much to blame for why he is no longer a Ranger.
In fact I am going to go backwards here as Jagr should have told his "dear friend" Bardin to stick a sock in it and shut up while the Ranger season was going on. Jagr is just as much to blame for not in a clear and "no doubt at all" voice stop the distraction that the Omsk circus became.
Jagr said he did not want his contract situation to become a distraction but it did and Jagr himself could have and should have addressed it once and for all.
In his relationship with the Anti-European Ranger fans there is nothing Jagr could have done expect score 300 points in a season. They are too set in their hatred to change.
Jagr also could have told Milbury and the media to "kiss his butt" during the season when they trashed him. Heck had Jagr done that then he just might have rallied more fans to his cause.
Yes Jagr is a sensitive superstar but as a person there comes a time when you have to stand up for yourself and fight. Can you just picture the reaction if Jagr had said "Kiss Off Milbury"?
I did and I would have eaten it up just like everyone else. However Jagr remained silent and thus allowed the abuse to go on too long and too far.
Jagr also never should have admitted in public about his play being uninspired because it brought up questions rightfully about his desire and those demons of his past. Jagr needed to go out and force the play with his play.
We heard how Jagr is a proud man, no question about it and there is no question about how he prepared as in the games I caught this past year I saw Jagr as the first one at the arena. Jagr may not have been the vocal leader that Messier was but he still set a great example for the youth that will reap dividends in the future (well we hope the kids get their chance).
Jagr did not need to go public with his displeasure with Renney's system but at the same time history tells the story about a infantry soldier who got orders to stop his unit's advance after they had secured a town. The grunt asked in reply "Should I go back sir?"
The moral of the story is for Jagr to beat the Renney system was for Jagr to score and keep scoring. Tom Renney was not going to give back goals and while I am not advocating a rebellion; I am saying if Jagr attacked more then Renney would not have been a position to force him to stop.
The same goes for dealing with Sather as all Jagr had to do was get those 84 points and Jagr was returning next season. In fairness he did not always get support from his teammates all the time either.
Too often teammates would either just stand there waiting for Jagr instead of cycling or would just defer to him. It was a joke to watch Rozsival trying to pass to Jagr with 2 guys covering Jagr.
Jagr and Drury did not work because most of the season Drury was invisible, Jagr and Gomez worked for a while but it was clear the Rangers were by putting them together were becoming a one line team.
In any case the sad bottom line is that Jagr along with everyone else deserves the blame for why today we say good bye to him. It did not have to happen this way and while Ranger fans are divided as to whether or not those moves this week will improve or damage the team; it is sad that Jagr will not be a part of it when he should have been.
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