Move over Carmen Sandiego, Jaromir Jagr is at it again.
Yesterday was supposed to be decision day. After talking for a while with Mario Lemieux and Ray Shero, the Pens had offered a contract to Jagr (believed to be one year, $2 million) and asked to hear his answer by Wednesday. Simple, right?
As Penguins fans have again been reminded, nothing is as simple as it sounds with Jaromir Jagr.
Word came that Jagr would be leaving the Czech Republic for America on Wednesday and would announce in the afternoon which team he would play for. Rumors swirled that while the Detroit Red Wings and possibly Montreal Canadiens were in the mix, Pittsburgh was the front-runner. A Russian paper even erroneously posted it as a done deal for the Pens.
Jagr's agent, Petr Svoboda, laid a loose timeline that Jagr would get into New York around 4:00 PM Eastern, and then in about an hour his decision would be known. But much after that Svoboda announced Jagr's plane was still in the air. New York's JFK airport was experiencing problems because turtles were on the runway.
Later in the evening Svoboda would say he had "no idea" where Jagr was. Our blogging friends at the Pensblog even got to talk to him on the phone and a gruff Svoboda barked to them that no decision would be made or announced on Wednesday.
Where that leaves his standing with the Penguins today is unknown. Dan Bylsma has been a Jagr-supporter, and obviously Mario Lemieux is in that corner as well, but Ray Shero has seemed the coolest towards camp-Jagr in the first place. Even before yesterday's gongshow, Shero was the most luke-warm member of the Pens towards a reunification with the Czech star.
And one day before free agency, Shero has a ton of work to do. Though he re-signed Arron Asham and Pascal Dupuis in recent days, his depth chart has two holes at scoring right wingers. One such player, Tyler Kennedy, will become an unrestricted free agent Friday at noon if Shero doesn't get him to agree to a contract. Other options will hit the FA market too that could be possibilities for Pittsburgh.
Shero has shown that he learned his lesson in the light of losing Marian Hossa after being strung along for days. He now identifies targets, makes offers when he thinks appropriate, and then moves on if necessary. Jagr's deadline was yesterday, and even his own people don't seem to know where in the world he is.
Officially, there is no word on the status. Some close to Lemieux have even told the media that Jagr had agreed to sign with Pittsburgh, even though publically nothing has been announced. Will that be enough to buy Camp Jagr some time? Or will Shero move on immediately and see to it that the confusion of the past 24 hours costs Jagr his chance at a Pittsburgh return?
There are many unknowns at this hour. With the twists and turns yesterday around every corner, who knows how the situation will play out. What was supposed to be an easy yes or no answer, turned into a story about confusion, turtles and seemingly a missing superstar.
Though there's been no criminal elemnt, somewhere Carmen Sandiego would probably be proud of all the mayhem. Let's just hope the Case of the Missing Superstar ends with a signed contract with the Pens today.