I don't have July 11th marked on the calendar, but with social media certain anniversaries are brought to your attention. This wasn't exactly a great day in Penguins history. In 2001 they traded Jaromir Jagr for a bunch of crap because the franchise had no money to pay him the contract both parties agreed to.
I was a freshman in college at the time. We didn't get the up to the minute updates that we get today via social media. You knew the trade was coming. Foolishly as the days went on I thought
"Well maybe they'll come to their senses and keep him"
I had a lot going on in life back then and didn't really understand the financials as well as I do in hindsight. The Lemieux retirement hurt, but I could understand it. I just couldn't understand why my favorite team wanted to get rid of their best player and more importantly why the return was such garbage. I'm pretty immune to player movement in sports now. I wasn't back then. The Jagr trade stung me the most.
I wasn't the only one stung by a Jagr trade. I don't think anybody ever made a good Jagr trade except for the team getting him.
Jaromir Jagr was traded four times in his career, including on this day 17 years ago. List of players he was traded for in career:
Kris Beech Michal Sivek Ross Lupashcuk Anson Carter Lane Macdermaid 1st rd pick (Jason Dickinson) 2nd rd pick (Ryan Gropp) 3rd rd pick (Rem Pitlick)
Without Mario Lemieux there would be no Pittsburgh Penguins. Obviously not to the same extent as Mario, but without Jaromir Jagr there would be no Pittsburgh Penguins. His heroics against the New Jersey Devils don't ever seem to get enough credit.
If the Penguins don't win that game the writing was on the wall for the franchise. They were either going to be straight up dissolved or relocated. They desperately needed the second round money to assist in Mario Lemieux's purchase plan for the team.
That tying goal with just over two minutes left was right in the grill of Scott Niedermayer, Scott Stevens, and Marty Brodeur. The victory was huge and it kept the Penguins alive. It was also only Game 6. They still needed to win another game against the top seeded New Jersey Devils.
Jagr added another two assists and the Penguins won the series after winning 4-2 in Game 7.
It wasn't an exit befitting of a legend on July 1, 2001. Nothing about that time period in Penguins history was straight forward or even logical. All these years later we don't need to harp on the exit or turmoil. His excellence was tangible at a time when the team needed it most. He was dying inside, it was his groin. He still put on the crest and saved the team.