It really doesn’t mean anything, but it could mean a lot. Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker was in the locker room following the Penguins’ 4-3 OT win over the Minnesota Wild. It didn’t appear he was on crutches, but the team-released video only showed him leaning against the wall. Head coach Mike Sullivan loved the Penguins’ effort. Elliotte Friedman emptied his notebook from the GM meetings, and the Boston Bruins honored Tuukka Rask.
Now, I was sworn not to make a big deal of the following. I didn’t put this in the headline or run to Twitter, per my agreement with a first-hand source who confirmed the story.
“We don’t want this blistered in a bunch of damned headlines yet,” my source called to bark as I texted after 11 p.m.. “…Not until it’s official, OK?”
The source accepted that I have to run with it and agreed to confirm it. Pictures began to fill my DMs last night from fans at the airport–they IMMEDIATELY recognized the celebrity. Even airport employees gathered for autographs.
Jaromir Jagr is in Pittsburgh. Today. NOW. A hockey bag and a handful of sticks were a part of the luggage that he loaded into a waiting black SUV. The former Pittsburgh Penguins winger isn’t here to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the 1992 Stanley Cup win. He’s here to finish his career and potentially play one more NHL game for the Penguins before he files his paperwork.
There are a dozen moving parts. Can he move well enough to play in an NHL game legitimately? Does he really want to do this?
“The boys could use a little pick-me-up before the playoffs. We thought this was a great way to put a bow on this season,” the source said.
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin were said to be excited, “like little kids on Christmas.”
The Penguins play in Colorado on Saturday, and the organization has no plans to let Jagr play a road game. But a few days to relax, and see old friends–including Mario Lemieux, who was in town for the fantasy camp featured on AT&T Sports, were a good cover story.
Lemieux didn’t pick up Jagr up at the airport but was waiting for a late dinner with his ageless teammate.
We caution that it’s not a done deal yet. If all goes well this morning, expect an official announcement today, so the team has an entire weekend to sell tickets. The Pittsburgh Penguins brass knew this would get out and are prepared to temper expectations as “just a visit. Just a reunion with Mario.”
But it’s more than that.
MUCH, MUCH more.
It’s an April Fools joke! April Fools!
None of the above is true. Things get so serious and angry anymore that I thought we could all use a laugh. Feel free to forward this to your friends and enjoy the reaction.
Now, to the Daily…
Pittsburgh Penguins & Metro Division
It sure seemed like a gruesome injury. Kevin Fiala gave Jason Zucker a little shove near the boards, and Zucker’s leg seemed to buckle beneath him before he lay in pain. Here is the story and video of the Jason Zucker injury.
Here’s the Tweet the Penguins put out after the game. Zucker wasn’t in the hospital for emergency surgery. That’s the good news.
Teammates in sickness and in health 💛🖤 pic.twitter.com/FNdtoXiy1P
— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) April 1, 2022
PHN+: The full report card. Minnesota was able to do a few things that should scare Penguins fans, but the Penguins also acquitted themselves well. Head coach Mike Sullivan “loved” their effort. Pittsburgh Penguins report card.
You’re still pissed at me for the Jagr prank, aren’t you?
Philly: The Flyers’ prospect pool is deep. Bobby Orr Bink is one of the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award. Philadelphia Flyers news.
Washington: A light day at practice for the Caps. Alex Ovechkin was absent, but T.J. Oshie is working his way back, again, but took a moment to greet a fan who flew 7,000 miles to be there. Washington Capitals news.
NYI: Strong start, strong finish. On Thursday, the Columbus Blue Jackets were no match for the New York Islanders.
Montreal Hockey Now: The first-place Carolina Hurricanes remained six points ahead of the Penguins. They dispatched the plucky Montreal Canadiens, 4-0.
NHL & National Hockey Now
Sportsnet: Elliotte Friedman gave the inside dirt of the GMs meetings. It doesn’t look like there’s much appetite to fix the LTIR issues that allowed Tampa Bay to exceed the cap by $18 million.
Friedman didn’t have the Jagr scoop. Too bad.
Boston: “No regrets.” The Boston Bruins honored Tuukka Rask before their game on Thursday night. And Rask will be a Bruins ambassador after his failed comeback in February. Here’s the whole story. Boston Bruins news
ESPN: Auston Matthews joined some elite company with his 50th goal of the season.
NBC: James O’Brien dissected the Minnesota Wild salary cap for next season. They just signed Alex Goligoski to a two-year deal. O’Brien thinks that could force them to deal Matt Dumba.
I disagree–there’s no way Bill Guerin risks Dumba to sign Goligoski. Guerin is too good for that sort of mistake. Dumba, however, has been on the NHL trade block before.
Detroit: It wasn’t an April fools joke 24 years ago when Chris Osgood and Patrick Roy had a minor goalie “tiff.” Osgood and Roy dropped the trappers and threw down at center ice. Osgood remembers the brawl at center ice. Detroit Red Wings memories.
Colorado: Nathan MacKinnon wasn’t seriously injured in the fight with Dumba this week. The Avs got lucky. Don’t push it, writes Terry Frie. Colorado Avalanche opinion.