Penguins fans packed the Consol Energy Center as they always do. Pens fans are some of the best fans in the game and always tell their team as well as the opposing team how they feel about them, good or bad. I have been to home games where they have given a standing ovation to former heroes like Max Talbot after he left to play for the Philadelphia Flyers. I have also seen them blow the roof off of the place when former retired stars Bill Guerin and Hall-of-Famer Mario Lemieux took the ice for special occasions.
On Thursday night, when the Penguins welcomed the Devils to town, one of their former greats came back to play against them and the reaction they give him is always the same: “Boo!”
Devils winger Jaromir Jagr played most of his soon-to-be Hall of Fame career with the Penguins. Jagr won two Stanley Cups as well as winning a Hart Trophy and five Art Ross Trophies as a member of the Penguins. Now, many people may ask the question, “Why would you boo one of the greatest players to ever wear your team’s jersey?” This answer has so many levels to it.
First, when Jagr left Pittsburgh, it was because he wanted to leave. Lemieux came out of retirement and Jagr felt as if the team was not his anymore. He asked to be traded, and he was sent to the Washington Capitals that offseason.
Second, Jagr has played for some of the Penguins’ biggest rivals. After going to play for the Capitals, Jagr was traded to the New York Rangers, another team that Pittsburgh fans have a special kind of hatred for. Jagr also played for the Pens’ greatest rival, the Philadelphia Flyers. If that wasn’t enough, Jagr was traded to the Boston Bruins, who just so happened to knock the Penguins out of the playoffs last season.
Finally, Jagr played the Penguins for fools to get a bigger deal from the Flyers a few offseasons ago. Owner Lemieux tried very hard to get GM Ray Shero to sign Jagr. The Pens gave him a very fair offer according to their management, but he decided to take more money and play with the hated rivals from across the state.
This was the final straw for Penguins fans.
For many years, Jagr was the most popular player in the Penguins’ system next to Lemieux. He was loved by all, had a peanut butter named after him and made the mullet a popular hair style in the city. But as the saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” However, there is not a saying like that for Jagr with the Penguins.
Until he retires, I just do not think Penguins fans will stop booing Jaromir Jagr.