Jaromir Jagr

Not being on Pittsburgh’s powerplay was a sticking point for Jagr, apparently


After yesterday’s less-than-cordial press scrum, not many expected Jaromir Jagr to speak today following the pregame skate. But speak is exactly what Jagr did. And how!

No. 68 went into great detail about why he chose to sign in Philadelphia — or, more accurately, why he chose not to sign in Pittsburgh. He also talked about his relationship with Mario Lemieux and how his negotiations with the Penguins were put on hold so they could extend Tyler Kennedy (also, what he read into that.)

But the best part of today’s scrum was when Jagr talked about Pittsburgh’s powerplay.

From the Post-Gazette:

Q: What about helping the Penguins’ power play?

A: I didn’t think I would get on the powerplay. That’s the way I felt. I didn’t know how I was going to play. I have some confidence in [myself] that I’m not going to be that bad. And in Philly there was a totally different team. There was a new team with a lot of young guys. Nobody had anything guaranteed. Here, that’s a different story. Everybody’s been together for probably five, six years, they won the [Stanley] Cup together. The lines are set up. I don’t think I would have had a chance to play – at least, the way I wanted to play.

Q: Penguins coach Dan Bylsma said that you would have played on the powerplay.

A: When did he say that?

Q: One time was yesterday.

A: Oh, yesterday. Oh. I had to make a decision three months ago.

Q: Bylsma also said that about a month ago.

A: A month ago. Yeah. But what about four months ago?

Jagr’s trying to be an open book about the whole spurning-Pittsburgh-for-Philly thing, which is admirable. Most players wouldn’t go into such detail explaining the choices they’ve made…but then again, most players don’t find themselves in Jagr’s situation.

That said — does anybody really think Jagr wouldn’t have (or believed he wouldn’t have) been on Pittsburgh’s power play?

Panarin impresses ‘Hawks with his preseason debut

Artemi Panarin
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Will Artem Panarin‘s overwhelming success in the KHL translate to North America? The 23-year-old forward has a lot to prove, but his first big test was a success.

Playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov, Panarin made his preseason debut in Chicago’s finale on Saturday. He registered two assists while giving his teammates reason to be optimistic about him.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “He has unbelievable skill. People here in Chicago are going to have a good time watching this guy dangling.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed by Panarin as well and liked that line as a whole.

The fact that the trio seemed to hit it off quickly has to come as a relief after an upper-body injury prevented Panarin from getting the most out of this year’s training camp. At the end of the day though, the fact that he was able to at least get in one preseason contest is a big silver lining. How smoothly his adjustment goes from here is still a big X-factor, but at least now he’s going into the regular season with a better idea of what to expect.

Panarin is attempting to establish himself in the NHL after leading the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg to a championship last year. He was the team’s scoring leader, topping ex-NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

Gustavsson secures one-year contract with Bruins

Jonas Gustavsson
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There was stiff competition for the backup goaltending job in Boston, but with a signing this afternoon, it seems likely that the matter has been resolved.

The Boston Bruins announced that Jonas Gustavsson has agreed to a one-year, $700,000 deal. It’s a one-way contract, according to the Boston Globe’s Amalie Benjamin.

That contract is still small enough that the Bruins could bury it in the minors if they so desire, but it does set him apart from his last competitor for the goalie position, Jeremy Smith, who has a two-way deal. The fact that Boston went this route seems to imply that Gustavsson will serve as Tuukka Rask‘s understudy, although both netminders attended Sunday’s practice.

In Smith, the Bruins would be getting a 26-year-old goaltender who was dominant with the AHL’s Providence Bruins last season, but has no NHL experience. By contrast Gustavsson, 30, has played in almost 150 NHL games.

Boston sent Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban to the minors last week, but an argument could be made that either one of them is worthy of the backup job. However, both of them have a lot of potential and it’s not surprising that the Bruins felt they were better served by staying in the minors where they can play regularly and focus on honing their game.