A Look At The Crazy Day
While the Pittsburgh Penguins found a way to retain Tyler Kennedy and added veteran scoring winger Steve Sullivan, the big news was who they lost, and more importantly, where they went.
For those who make their home under a rock, I’m talking about the Jaromir Jagr and Max Talbot signings in Philadelphia and the Mike Rupp signing in New York.
To be quite honest, I was prepared to lose out on Jagr, as I felt the longer the saga went, the less likely he was to decide with his “heart.” Likewise, I was prepared to lose Talbot and Rupp.
But for all three to land with division rivals…well that stings a bit.
Before I get to the losses, I’d like to briefly examine the gains.
Tyler Kennedy – 2 years, $2 million per year
Say what you want about Kennedy, but there’s no denying his timing is impeccable. The young winger posted fantastic numbers down the stretch, which parlayed into a very interesting week.
Ultimately, though, Penguins general manager Ray Shero knew what he was doing in not extending Kennedy a qualifying offer.
While Kennedy may not prove to be a permanent fixture on the second line or the power play, his contract is quite reasonable, and given the crazy contracts dished out today, it’s obvious he took a discount to remain with the Penguins.
Overall, I like the signing and am happy to have Kennedy back.
Steve Sullivan – 1 year, $1.5 million
Sullivan’s name isn’t quite as well known as Jagr’s and his game isn’t quite as skilled as Jagr’s, but the veteran winger will bring something Jagr won’t: character.
Sullivan is a small, speedy, tenacious winger with an excellent shot and a body made of glass. There’s no question that, when healthy, he’ll be a fantastic addition to the Penguins, both in the locker room and on the ice. Problem is, he’s been injured more often than he’s been healthy over the last few years.
At this point, it’s unclear where he will fit into the lineup at even strength, but his right handed shot and his excellent vision will be welcomed additions on the power play.
Again, Sullivan won’t be confused with Jagr or any other of today’s big-dollar signings, but at $1.5 million, he has the potential to be the best “bang for the buck” signing of the summer.
Typical under-the-radar Shero signing. While not thrilled, I am happy with the addition.
And now to the loses…
Max Talbot – Philadelphia Flyers – 5 years, $1.8 million per year
A $1.8 million cap hit doesn’t seem bad for Talbot, who is a proven big game player. But five years for a fourth liner is just ridiculous. There’s just no way Shero could or should have signed Talbot to a similar deal.
And that precisely is why losing Talbot wasn’t a big deal to me. He’s a nice player to have, but he priced and termed himself out of Pittsburgh.
What made his departure a big deal was his destination. Not only did he fail to leave the division, he also failed to leave the state, signing with the team he seemed to loathe while wearing the black and gold.
Even so, it’s difficult to fault Talbot for cashing in long-term on what clearly will be the biggest contract of his career.
That being said, he’s now a Flyer, and I don’t like Flyers.
Mike Rupp – New York Rangers – 3 years, $1.5 million per year
The Rangers aren’t the Flyers, but they’re still a division rival — which makes the Rupp signing a bit more difficult to handle.
Still, it’s easy to justify losing Rupp when you see the contract he signed. Rupp’s a respectable fourth liner who fights, hits, and scores a few goals — and he’s a solid citizen, too — but at half the price, the Penguins were able to retain an identical player in Arron Asham.
I wish Rupp the best of luck in New York, but only when not playing the Penguins.
Jaromir Jagr – Philadelphia Flyers – 1 year, $3.3 million
And now the one that quite possibly hurts the worst.
Throughout the last week or so, Jagr’s agent Petr Svoboda has done a fantastic job garnering interest in the 39-year-old future Hall of Famer. Jagr went from having a select few teams interested in his services to having as many as a half dozen or more wanting to sign him.
Jagr wasn’t a Penguin last season, but all the fluff Svoboda spouted saying Jagr’s “heart” was in Pittsburgh turned out to be a load of crap, as his agent today told 93.7 The Fan that Philadelphia offered Jagr the best opportunity to succeed.
In other words, Jagr and his agent used Pittsburgh to inflate his value. I could have handled Jagr signing in Detroit or Montreal, as both were teams he originally expressed interest in playing for. But to sign with Philadelphia, a team that swooped in at the last minute and exposed Jagr as a mercenary…well, it just rubs me the wrong way.
There is no erasing Jagr’s history in Pittsburgh. The early years of his career were nothing short of amazing, And, while he left on shady terms in 2001, Penguins fans were more than willing to make amends, allowing him to restore his legacy as a Penguin.
Today, Jagr did just the opposite. He forever tarnished his name in Pittsburgh and has forever cemented his status as one of the city’s most hated hockey players.
Unlike Talbot, Rupp, and other former Penguins who departed on good terms, I wish Jagr no good luck. I hope he grows to despise his decision and regrets the day he destroyed his name.