Jagr: 'I didn't mean to hurt anyone'

Jaromir Jagr of the Czech Republic celebrates after scoring a goal, May 11, 2011. REUTERS/Petr Josek

Jaromir Jagr of the Czech Republic celebrates after scoring a goal, May 11, 2011. REUTERS/Petr Josek

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:48 PM ET

For those in Pittsburgh who have gone from loving to loathing Jaromir Jagr, the former Steeltown icon claims there never was any guarantee in place that he would return to the Penguins.

Even a brief conversation with Pens owner Mario Lemieux, his former teammate, did not lure Jagr back to Pittsburgh. In the end, he signed a one-year, $3.3 million US deal with the rival (and hated) Philadelphia Flyers, igniting outrage among Pens fans.

In Jagr's mind, he did nothing wrong.

"I talked to Mario once, not for very long," Jagr said early Saturday afternoon. “I didn't talk to him since I left the NHL (three years ago).

"I didn't promise anything. If the Penguins think I did something bad or the fans think I did something bad, well, I didn't do something bad.

"This happens in free agency. Just because people are interested in you, doesn't mean I have to go there. I didn't mean to hurt anyone, but it's my choice, my life."

The Flyers first game in Pittsburgh is Dec. 29 at the Consol Energy Center. You can bet there won't be a lot of holiday cheer aimed at Jagr by the disgruntled Pens throng in that glitzy second-year barn on that night.

Rejecting the notion that he bolted to Philly just for the money, Jagr said it was conversations with Paul Holmgren, Peter Laviolette and one of the Flyer players that eventually convinced him to don the orange-and-black.

"There were a lot more teams with higher offers," Jagr, 39, said. "As for Philly, I didn't think I would go to Philly. But after talking to the coach, the GM and Chris Pronger, I could see what they were doing and what direction they were going.

"I felt there was an opportunity to play more here than with other teams," he added.

Jagr racked up 145 points in 155 games for Avangard Omsk of the KHL the past three seasons. 

mike.zeisberger@sunmedia.ca

 

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