Jaromir Jagr made his debut with the Czech League's Kladno Knights on Wednesday, picking up an assist in a 3-2 defeat at the hands of H.C. Slavia. He was joined by fellow NHLers Tomas Plekanec, Jiri Tlusty, Marek Zidlicky, Roman Cervenka, and Vladimir Sobotka.
But the debut of this band of Czech talent almost didn't happen. The morning of the game, the players' transfer cards had still yet to be approved, and they began to worry that they might have to sit the night out. That would have been a nightmare, considering the thousands upon thousands slated to come watch.
A majority owner in the franchise, Jagr took to the phones in an attempt to prevent the crowd from shouting "What, no Jagr?" And he was able to do so, thanks to some eleventh-hour cooperation from the NHL brass. From the New York Times:
To expedite the process, Jagr had made a late phone call Tuesday to his former Rangers teammate Brendan Shanahan, who is now an N.H.L. vice president.
"I have to say thanks to Brendan Shanahan who helped me a lot," Jagr said. "Shanahan did a great job and put Gary Bettman and Bill Daly on the phone, and eventually we were able to play."
There's a lot to discuss in this short section. First, it's definitely interesting to note that Bettman and Daly personally helped to resolve the transfer card issue ahead of the game.
That seems especially generous, considering the beating the NHL is taking over its treatment of the players.
"I think the anger and frustration comes from knowing what the owners are capable of under the guidance of Gary Bettman," Ryan Miller told the Globe & Mail Friday, perhaps insinuating they were capable of murder most foul.
And agent Allan Walsh feels the league is just stewing over the player exodus. "NHL hates it that players playing in Europe... NHL wants players sitting at home," he tweeted.
But if the NHL were truly as spiteful as some are saying, wouldn't it have made more sense to cackle at the issue and wash its hands of it? Why, this act of cooperation seems downright... nice.
Granted, the alternative could have led to a massive PR debacle, had it gotten out. It would have made the NHL look spiteful and small, for one.
Then this story would have this header instead:
Additionally, it would have supported the transfer card controversy Dmitry Chesnokov discussed on Tuesday, which was subsequently denied by the IIHF.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly also distanced the NHL from this issue. When asked how much of a role the NHL plays in the IIHF decision on transfer cards, he responded, "None, either directly or indirectly."
Unless Jaromir Jagr is asking to be done a solid.
Follow Harrison Mooney on Twitter at @HarrisonMooney