John Wordock from All Things Hockey asked me to do a little something-something about Jaromir Jagr's disappearance in this playoffs. I did a little piece, but I figured I could do so much more than that to elaborate on what happened, or didn't happen, in the Rangers' first round sweep to the hands of the Devils.
I think the question that could be on everyone's mind is why would someone who had 54 goals and 123 points in the regular season would go out of their way to play a tough guy. Scott Gomez not only avoided the elbow after Jagr lost the puck, but he made a beautiful pass to Patrik Elias to allow Elias to net his second goal of the game and his sixth point. Afterwords, you see Jagr, hunched over with his left arm hanging a little lower than the maker would have meant it to be.
Jagr than missed Game Two and claimed it would take "a miracle" to get back for Game Three. Quick-- someone get the angels, he's back on the ice for not only game three, but four as well. In game three, Jagr played just over 17 minutes and was an even rating for the night. In game four, Jagr took a little bump against the boards, but it was enough to put him out of the game, and subsequently, out of the playoffs. It was Jagr's first shift of the game, so he didn't really stick around for the loss.
Amazingly enough, when I heard that Jagr did get his divine intervention and did play in game three, it made me ask myself if this was truly a miracle or a way for Jagr possibly have an excuse to give to the media if he didn't play well. Then Game Four, he pretty much phoned it in after the bump his took.
If this display is not enough to give Joe Thornton the Hart Trophy, then I don't know what it is. Sure, Jagr had gotten back to his old scoring ways and he was a great player to watch-- but I don't think he was more valuable to the Rangers than Thornton was to the Sharks. Because of Thornton's acquistion, the Sharks made a huge run to the playoffs, Jonathan Cheechoo was a 50+ goals scorer, which led to a Richard Trophy win, plus the Sharks could be a threat to anyone in this year's playoffs. Jagr......well.....he has continued to keep the mullet away for an extended period of time. Jagr didn't really make anyone better or made them a threat in the playoffs.
Jagr had a record season, and that really shouldn't be overshadowed. The problem is that he didn't really see it through. It was almost like when he didn't win the Art Ross, he just decided to give up, mainly because he didn't get what he wanted. Here's a guy, who even in short series, has had at least a point per game average after all is said and done.
In the end, there have been reports that Jaromir wants to go back to the Czech Republic after his big 77M contract expires. If this performance is any indiciation of what will happen with the rest of the contract, the Rangers may not want to pick-up his option, though they may be tempted if it gets them in the playoffs. We'll see if he was really hurt or sand-bagging it when it comes to the World Championships. We'll just have to see, but I don't think Jagr's performance will be any better as the time goes on.