Penguins, Jagr a connection worth chasing
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A sampling of the week's entries on the DK on Pittsburgh Sports blog, available on PG+, the Post-Gazette's premium site:
Connecting the various dots, it would appear that the Penguins are interested in mending fences with Jaromir Jagr, and that Jagr is interested in returning to the NHL. Add into that his hat trick Wednesday against the United States in Slovakia and, man, that sure sounds to me like a connection worth making.
In fact, it sounds like a win-win-win.
But let me start with this: No, this would not be an Alexei Kovalev type of situation. Jagr long ago adjusted his game away from beating guys one-on-one to more of a stationary shooter. He started that with the Rangers and carried it over to Russia. And, from watching him up close in Vancouver last winter at the Olympics, I can offer that there is absolutely no question he would continue to be an impact player in the NHL, even if he is not the mullet-headed, stickhandling wizard so many of us recall. There were many hockey executives there shaking their heads that he was wasting his time in Russia rather than adding to his points and legacy in the NHL.
Please don't tell me that there wouldn't be a spot on the top two lines -- or, for that matter, the miserable power play -- for Jagr.
And as for his "dying alive" exit, I don't think there would be an issue there, either. Jagr has made his tens of millions (gambled a lot of them away, too), and he has had his individual glory, but it has a been a long time since he raised the Cup. And it has been more than a decade since he was cheered in the place he still calls the site of "my greatest years." I've always found Jagr to be a child in some ways and, if you ask me, the only thing he would enjoy more than a bookend championship to his career would be to find a way to be loved again in Pittsburgh.
It might take an extra effort for the player, the team and even the fan base to make all this happen, but it sure strikes me as being worth it.
• There were only 11,373 Monday at PNC Park to see the seriously uplifting 4-1 victory that put the Pirates above .500 for the first time since before my 6-year-old boy was born. And be sure that plenty of people will do the usual complaining about what a shame the size of that crowd was.
Here's how I long have felt on this topic: The number of people with the license to complain about the size of a crowd is exactly equivalent to the attendance that night.
Which means, there are 11,373 who can rightly complain.
If you want to complain about City Hall, go vote.
• Congratulations to whomever talked Ashton Gibbs into staying at Pitt, including possibly Gibbs himself.
There is no room in the NBA for a one-dimensional 3-point shooter who still can't shoot off the dribble. Gibbs' best chance at a serious professional career is to have another year with Jamie Dixon, one in which Dixon does not cater the offense to create catch-and-shoot opportunities. Gibbs has to be challenged to drive to the basket, dish to the inside or shoot off the dribble. He also can play better defense.
Being with the Panthers another year is best on all counts.
• Is there still an NFL lockout or not?
Seriously, can anyone recall any work stoppage for a major professional sports league -- never mind our most popular league -- that has fallen so far off the radar?
Even in Pittsburgh, where football is practically life-sustaining, you hardly hear a peep.