Malkin was hoping to play with Jagr this year
Courtesy the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, here’s audio from today’s media scrum with Penguins center Evgeni Malkin. Most of the focus is on tomorrow night’s big game against Philadelphia, which will mark Jaromir Jagr’s first time in Pittsburgh as a Flyer.
Like most young Eastern European players, Malkin speaks about Jagr with reverence. They first crossed paths in the KHL during the 2004-04 lockout (Malkin played with Metallurg, Jagr with Avangard Omsk), then for two years as divisional rivals (with Pittsburgh and New York.)
Malkin said he was excited about potentially joining forces with Jagr this season.
“Good player. I read newspaper and I hope he’d sign because...it’s Jagr,” he explained. “He’s a good player and if he signed in Pittsburgh of course he’d help us.”
As for Jagr, he was -- as expected -- hounded by reporters today on the eve of his return to Pittsburgh. The exchange got a bit testy at times; here are some of the more acrimonious snippets (courtesy the Post-Gazette):
Q – Have you thought about how you’ll be received by fans who used to be fans of Jaromir Jagr when he played for the Penguins?
A – What kind of question is this? Everybody knows how I’m going to (be) received.
Q – In the past when you’ve come back, has the crowd reaction affected you on the ice?
A – I couldn’t play. [Editor’s note: That was sarcasm.] Please don’t boo me.
Q – Are you excited about coming back here and playing and showing that you still have it?
A – That would be the worst thing that could happen, if you wanted to show somebody that you still have it. (That) would show my ego. I don’t want to prove anything to anybody. I don’t think I would play my game if I wanted to show somebody. Plus, I don’t have it any more.
Q – How do you think you’ve fit in so far with the Flyers?
A – I don’t know. You tell me. What do you think?
Q – I’d rather hear it from you.
A – I cannot talk about myself. I don’t know. You have to ask somebody else who can answer better.
Here’s video of the interview. Full marks to Jagr for conducting the entire Q&A under a gigantic orange hoodie.