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Kalman: Bruins Should Pursue Jaromir Jagr

By Matt Kalman, CBSBoston.com
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Jaromir Jagr #68 of the Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Jaromir Jagr #68 of the Philadelphia Flyers. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) – The Bruins have enjoyed recent success with an aged former Pittsburgh Penguins Stanley Cup-winner in their lineup and dressing room.

So this summer it might be time for them to make a pitch to bring in another ex-Pen.

Although Mark Recchi and Jaromir Jagr are 180 degrees different in terms of their style of play on the ice and approach to leadership, Jagr would probably fit into the Bruins’ scheme of things almost as comfortably as Recchi did during his two-plus seasons in black and gold.

It was recently reported via TSN reporter Darren Dreger’s Twitter account that after playing one season with Philadelphia, Jagr is headed to unrestricted free agency July 1. There will be several suitors, including the Flyers, in pursuit of Jagr, who posted 19-35-54 totals in 73 games last season at 40 years old and three seasons removed from his last NHL season. Eight of his goals came on the power play.

Jagr made just $3.3 million last season and there’s little reason to believe it would take much more than that to get him onto the Bruins’ or another team’s roster. The reason Jagr came back to North America was to pursue another Stanley Cup, which eluded him and the Flyers because of the emergence of New Jersey as a dominant postseason team. His dedication in returning to North America was one of the reasons he was the Philadelphia chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association’s nominee for the Masterton Trophy, which honors perseverance in hockey.

Another reason for that nomination was Jagr’s leadership. He might not run around waving his pompoms or yelling in guys’ faces, but Jagr became famous last season for his off-hour workouts that several young Flyers players joined. With Boston, Jagr wouldn’t just set a great example for the Bruins’ really young players, like Tyler Seguin, but he would make a great role model for the young veterans, namely Milan Lucic and David Krejci.

If Lucic and Krejci, among others, want to be All-Star players, and do it for a long time, they could take a lesson or two from Jagr. As a boy, Krejci grew up idolizing Jagr. Considering all they’ve invested in Krejci and how much they expect from the center, the Bruins might want to take greater steps to make sure Krejci can thrive.

Jagr is also a player Boston’s older players respect. Zdeno Chara and others have sung Jagr’s praises as a worthy and honorable adversary for years. It would be a nearly seamless move for Jagr to slide into Boston’s dressing room, lead when necessary and focus mostly on keeping himself ready to pop in 20 goals and make the Bruins’ power play dangerous again.

There’d be more than just Jagr’s veteran influence for Krejci to benefit from. Imagine if Nathan Horton is healthy and willing to shift to the off wing. A first line of Horton, Krejci and Jagr, with Milan Lucic suddenly skating next to Patrice Bergeron and Seguin, or maybe Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley, looks like a much better threat to win a round of playoffs next spring. Of course, signing Jagr would also cover the Bruins should Horton not be ready when the season starts, or ever.

If the Bruins don’t want to type up a lot of cap space and roster room for years down the road by bringing in a Rick Nash-type superstar, they have to think more in the short-term. They have the cap space to use. There would be no better way to fill an immediate need without mortgaging the future, or hindering the future from blossoming, then getting Jagr into the Bruins’ dressing room on a one-year deal.

Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com. He operatesTheBruinsBlog.net and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on twitter @TheBruinsBlog.

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