On this day eight years ago the Pittsburgh Penguins entered their "hang on and try to survive financially" phase when they traded the best offensive player in the game for three unproven prospects and $5 million dollars. In the "old" CBA with teams free to spend as much as they like, cost certainty was non-existant. The Penguins, trying to keep the most of their talented core together for as long as possible, chose to jettison problem child Jaromir Jagr at this point in an attempt to keep some of their own free agents like Robert Lang, Alexei Kovalev, Marty Straka and Darius Kasparaitis. (None of them would last with the team for three years though).
Somehow the Jagr trade ended up being lose-lose for both sides. Going to Pittsburgh was:
Kris Beech - supposedly the centerpiece in the Pittsburgh trade, Beech was famously hailed by then GM Craig Patrick as a playmaking center with a likeness to Ron Francis....Uhh, yeah. Beech could never seem to stay out of his own way and his laid back attitude (nice way of saying it looked like he didn't care) often rubbed fans the wrong way. Beech was the most successful prospect in the trade, scoring 67 points in 198 career NHL games and really playing well in the minors as a scoring forward. He currently plays in Europe, last year in Sweden.
Michal Sivek - This Czech forward did nothing to replace the man he was traded for, appearing in just 38 games (and registering six points). Though he had size, he didn't often use his frame. Though he had decent offensive skills, he didn't score that much or look all that comfortable in North America. Sivek seemingly had all of the tools, but he never built anything. According to hockeydb.com, Sivek didn't play professionally this past season.
Ross Lupaschuk - Perhaps the saddest case of all, Lupaschuk's career (or what was left of it) was derailed when his brother got murdered which obviously effected him greatly. Lupaschuk, a rare blend of a smooth skating yet physical defenseman with a big right-handed shot scored 18 goals in the AHL in 2002-03 when he was 21/22 years old. But all that promise never materialized either, as he only played in three NHL games and he never made that jump from prospect to legit NHL'er. This past season Loopy spent time in the Swedish league as well as Russia's KHL.
And if that is depressing (hey, at least the Pens got $5 million dollars!) imagine Washington's point of view:
Jaromir Jagr - Jagr, who was miserable in his final days in Pittsburgh didn't find much happiness in Washington either. Jags sleepwalked his was through 190 games scoring, for him, a lackluster 201 points (he had scored 217 points in his final 144 games with Pittsburgh). No matter what Washington did -- like bring in his old friends Robert Lang or Kip Miller, nothing seemed to appease the moody Czech. Further Jagr was seen as the missing piece to bring the Caps a championship only won two playoff games for the Caps in only one appearance, that didn't work. Further, hamstrung to Jagr's terrible contract, the Capitals were forced to trade him in 2003-04 for merely "Dancin" Anson Carter. And Washington had to pay a piece of Jags salary through 2008 and they entered a rebuilding phase that they only came out of in the same year.
So here's to you July 11th, a day that Penguin and Capital fans would both rather forget.