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The pebble is out of the skate boot

February 20, 2024, 4:17 PM ET [275 Comments]
Ryan Wilson
Pittsburgh Penguins Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
The Pittsburgh Penguins have five Stanley Cup Championships and are defined by the mega stars they’ve had throughout the years on those teams. The best player in the sport was wearing a Penguins crest for the majority of the modern era of hockey. Despite this there’s been the feeling that there was a pebble in their skate boot. Something has been off for the past 23 years or so. Something sitting there causing discomfort. Annoying enough to be present, but not enough to warrant full attention.

That something was the relationship between Penguins fans and Jaromir Jagr. While the entire hockey world was busy embracing an icon of the sport, some Penguins fans were in this weird purgatory where they felt like they couldn’t embrace him because of the trade and eventual conclusion to the original #JagrWatch. They loved him when he was on the team, but could not grasp the nuances of either situation, which led to the animosity. It led to the booing of one of the most likeable players in the history of the NHL and in the place he is most known for playing. It was a bad look. It was a bad feeling. The vibes weren’t right. Every single fan base would have loved to have claimed he played for them and damned if Jagr didn’t try to make it happen by playing for 28 percent of a 32-team league. The place he played and accomplished the most, he received the most grief.

On Sunday evening Jaromir Jagr, the fans, and the Penguins organization were able to cleanse the palette and restore the love and admiration everybody involved deserves. It was an unbelievable evening. It was an unbelievable week. It was perfection.

The Penguins and Jagr set the bar incredibly high for teams in the future handling the retirement ceremonies of their legends. Bestowing the honor of having a jersey number retired is commonplace in sports. Integrating the player with the team leading up to the ceremony and having him be an active participant with the team at practice and warmups was so incredibly special. It ramped up what could have been a special one off evening into a week of reconciliation and healing. Seeing Jagr actively skating in the black and Pittsburgh Gold with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang felt perfect and bridged the gap between the two magical eras of Penguins hockey and solidified the team’s lineage even more.

The spirit of Penguins hockey flows through their core four and with Jaromir Jagr home again, all is right. The pebble is out of the skate boot. Jaromir Jagr is a Pittsburgh Penguin and will be forever.







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