Jaromir Jagr's plan behind signing with the Flyers seems to be a well-calculated one.
Jagr liked that the Flyers made a "great move with the goalies." From phone conversations with Chris Pronger, he learned that their defense is solid. He knows that they are "good offensively."
Most of all, though, Jagr examined the Flyers roster enough to know that he could play alongside centers Danny Briere and Claude Giroux, who are both righthanded.
Jagr wants to be the Flyers' solution to their anemic power play, which finished 19th out of 30 teams last season. Jagr has 181 power-play goals and 345 power-play assists in his storied career, which last left him ninth all-time on the NHL points list with 1,599. He is 42 points behind Joe Sakic for the eighth spot.
"I like to play power play on the right side, and I think because they're righthanded, they like to play on the other side," said Jagr, who agreed to a 1-year, $3.3 million deal Friday. "I think it would be a problem if I would play in Pittsburgh with [Sidney] Crosby or [Evgeni] Malkin, lefthanded, and have to play on the other side, when I've played all my life on the right side. I don't think I would be able to play there. Or if I go to Detroit, with [Pavel] Datsyuk and [Henrik] Zetterberg, they're lefthanded and they play on the boards where I used to play at."
Jagr didn't seem worried about damaging the relationship he had with Penguins owner and former teammate Mario Lemieux, despite reports that he had promised Lemieux he would play in Pittsburgh.
Jagr's agent, former Flyers defenseman Petr Svoboda, even went as far as saying on Friday morning that his client's "heart belonged in Pittsburgh." Both Detroit and Pittsburgh dropped their offers early on Friday when they sensed there was another team in the mix.
"I didn't promise anybody anything, that I was going back," Jagr said. "The Penguins seemed like I did something wrong or something bad, and I don't think I did something bad. If they feel like that, I cannot change their minds. I was a free agent, and I had my chance to pick wherever I think is best for me. I have the option to pick.
"If I hurt somebody, I apologize, I didn't mean it, but this is my life and I want to make the choice."
Loyalty doesn't seem to be an issue. Jagr said his reason for not returning to the NHL during the past three seasons was to honor his 3-year contract with Avangard Omsk of Russia's Kontinental Hockey League. He said NHL teams tried to lure him back every summer.
He even apologized in advance, saying he could answer questions better in his native Czech tongue or even Russian, having seldom used English in the last 3 years.
"I just made the decision and stayed with it," he said. "That's what I promised them. Three years ago with the free agency, we couldn't make any deals with [Rangers general manager] Glen Sather. So like I promised, I signed with Avangard Omsk. But right after I signed, there were very good offers from the NHL. But I told myself I'm not going to look back, because I already did what I did. It was kind of tough to leave, because then I saw there was more interest from the NHL, but I had already made the promise.
"I know for some people it might be just words, but for me, I'm very religious, I know it would bite me a little later. I know that. That's the way the world works."
Jagr, 39, answered simply when asked about his goal for next season, in which he specifically asked for a 1-year deal in case he wasn't thrilled with his destination. He isn't concerned about the pressure to perform in Philadelphia. He isn't worried about damaging his own reputation as a star player who played too long.
Jagr said he is still playing thanks to the hard-working guys like Rick Tocchet, Paul Coffey and Kevin Stevens whom he watched as a 20-something in Pittsburgh.
"If I play bad and people criticize me, that's fine," Jagr said. "If the things were only about myself, I'm not worried about it."
Instead, Jagr said he didn't want fans to "criticize the people who brought me to Philadelphia." Jagr doesn't want to "let somebody down" who believed in him.
"I have only one goal, and that's making people happy," Jagr said. "To make them happy, to those people who believe I can be good. That's my goal. If I make them happy, I'll be happy."
Suffice to say, if Jagr can perform anywhere close to the point-per-game player we saw as recently as last year in Russia, all sides will be happy. Except Pittsburgh.
"There's no guarantees," Jagr said. "I could easily stay in Russia, make a lot more money and play 60 games. I wanted to try it. I have the feeling."
The Flyers said yesterday they would not comment on whether newly signed center Maxime Talbot's 5-year, $9 million contract violates the collective bargaining agreement.
TSN.ca reported the contract could be in violation because the final 2 years cannot be worth less than half of either of the first 2 years of the deal.
The final 2 years are worth $1 million each; the first 2 years are worth $2.5 million and $2.25 million. According to TSN, the Flyers would need to restructure the contract bumping either the fourth of fifth year to $1.125 million.
According to the report, the Flyers are unlikely to be penalized.
Prospect camp set
Center Brayden Schenn, acquired in the Mike Richards trade, and first-round draft pick Sean Couturier are among the top players scheduled to participate in a prospect development camp beginning tomorrow at the Flyers Skate Zone in Voorhees, N.J.
The camp will include on-ice sessions from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. tomorrow through Sunday and from 9 to 11 a.m. Monday. All on-ice sessions are free and open to the public.