Connect with us


Penguins Room: Players in Awe, Jagr ‘Inspiration’ Changes Dynamic (+)



Pittsburgh Penguins, Jaromir Jagr, Sidney Crosby

The Pittsburgh Penguins practiced Saturday. They’ve lost three of four games and slipped perilously behind others in the playoff chase. Still, none of that was the news that gripped a couple of thousand fans who packed into the UPMC Lemieux Complex to watch practice or the fans in absentia who were glued to social media.

The Penguins practice started more than 20 minutes late. The building anticipation had the feeling of a rock concert waiting for the band. The news that Jaromir Jagr was in the building was replaced with giddy excitement as one of the greatest players ever was not just at practice but in full gear as a participant.

There wasn’t so much a cheer as there was stunned silence. Phones were held aloft, catching video for stories that would be told for a long, long time.

Yes, 52-year-old Jagr, who is being honored this weekend in a warm homecoming before having his No. 68 retired Sunday, suited up for practice. It wasn’t just the fans who realized they were witnessing a special moment unlike any other. The players were downright exuberant, too.

In a matter of moments, Jagr changed everything about the Penguins’ practice, including the mood.

“Just like with any job, (a routine) can get a little bit monotonous … So to get a little bit of something new, I think there might be a little bit of a spark, might be a little bit more fun, might give a little bit more energy,” Bryan Rust said.

Kris Letang and Alex Nedeljkovic wore Jagr mullet wigs in practice warmup. Jagr was one of Letang’s childhood idols. The Penguins defenseman, who will likely have his own commemorative weekend one day, didn’t miss his chance to skate with Jagr and share a laugh.

At least one player admitted to asking for an autograph.

When practice began in earnest, the energy level was game-like as Jagr participated in the first few drills. And yes, the goalies said Jagr was trying to score.

Use code Dan10 to save $10 off PHN+

This content is for PHN+ subscribers only. Join us and get access to our entire network for only $4.49 per month, or get a yearly subscription for just $39.99!
Join us!