Jagr ready for B's - Pens rivalry from other side

Jagr ready for B's - Pens rivalry from other side
May 28, 2013, 9:30 pm
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WILMINGTON – It’s been 12 years since Jaromir Jagr put on a Pittsburgh Penguins sweater, and scored an astounding 52 goals and 121 points before departing for the Washington Capitals in exchange for an astoundingly horrendous trade package of Kris Beech, Michal Sivek and Ross Lupaschuk.

But the two Stanley Cups he won with Penguins owner Mario Lemieux, and the fact his name is still etched at the top of Pittsburgh’s franchise leaders for nearly every offensive category, is impossible to ignore. Jagr’s name and likeness also appear prominently in the Pittsburgh Penguins home dressing room at the CONSOL Energy Center, so it’s going to be a little strange when No. 68 suits up against them this weekend as a member of the Boston Bruins.

“There are only four teams left, and that’s pretty exciting,” said Jagr, who has four assists in 12 playoff games and went scoreless in five games against the Rangers in the second round. “I don’t even remember the last time I was in this position. It was probably 1996 or 1997, so it doesn’t happen very often.

“The players should realize that it’s not automatic to be in the playoffs, and it’s not an automatic to be one of the last four teams playing for the Cup. If you love something then you want to be with it all the time. I love this game. As long as I can play it, I want to play.”

Of course things will only be weird if “The Jagr” makes them weird, and he made it abundantly clear on Tuesday morning that he moved on a decade ago. Playing for the Washington Capitals, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Dallas Stars in between stints in Pittsburgh and Boston would certainly help anybody turn the page, and Jagr has done just that.

But the 41-year-old future Hall of Famer also remembers the epic playoff matchups between the Penguins and the Bruins when they met in the Eastern Conference Finals in 1990-91 and 1991-92. Jagr was just a teenager back then much like Tyler Seguin was in his first Stanley Cup playoff experience, and he recalls the battles well that raged between well-known combatants like Cam Neely and Ulf Samuelsson.

“It’s been a lot of years since I played for them,” said Jagr. “Those [playoff series] were pretty nasty, but that’s what we had to do in order to beat Boston. They were pretty tough, especially at home on the small ice. I think it was the smallest rink in the NHL back then, and they knew how to play on the small ice.

“I remember it very well. We lost the first couple of games in Boston, and then we outscored them by a lot in the rest of the series. I was 18 or 19 years old back then. I was thinking about what was going to be happening tomorrow. I definitely wasn’t thinking about what things were going to be like 20 years from now.”

The Bruins could certainly use the Jagr of 20 years ago skating with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand when the Eastern Conference Finals begin against the Penguins this weekend, but they’ll settle for the big-bodied, creative playmaker that was so effective in the final weeks of the regular season.

Jagr finished without a point in the five games against the Rangers in the second round, and he’ll need to be a lot more productive against his former hockey club if the Bruins have any hopes of advancing past Pittsburgh.