If his agent is to be believed, 39-year-old Jaromir Jagr wants to play in the NHL and there's a "really, really good chance" it'll happen for the 2011-12 season.
The latest on the return of Mario Jr., via Pierre LeBrun of ESPN, is that agent Petr Svoboda has indicated the Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings and "another team" he declined to name as the three options.
Per LeBrun, it would be a 1-year deal and that a decision for Jagr could come this week.
(No word if the KHL is still in the bidding process, for all of you who think this is just some price-inflating gambit by Jagr and his reps.)
Rob Rossi of the Tribune-Review has more on the Penguins' side of the negotiation:
Regarding the Penguins, Svoboda said the appeal to Jagr is returning to his NHL roots playing with centers Sidney Crosby(notes) and Evgeni Malkin(notes) and "being part of the professional, winning organization Ray has built."
Shero is not the only Penguins' official on Jagr's mind. "I talked to Jaromir yesterday about Pittsburgh. He is a fan of the city and of the organization," Svoboda said. "I also spoke with (former Penguin) Robert Lang(notes) and he told me Mario Lemieux is trying to reach Jagr right now to talk."
Alas, Jagr sold his cell phone for a $300 buy-in at a Texas Hold'em Tournament in Prague (unconfirmed).
So the dance continues, as do the concerns.
How much will he cost? Can his 39-year-old body hold up to the rigors of the NHL when one great Alex Ovechkin(notes) hit in the Olympics seemed to sap him of this mojo? At what point does he have to begin prepping his coif for a proper Jagr mullet?
Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette harbors (most) of those concerns and one more: That Jagr will be the same sulking, gamblin' dressing room distraction he was during his days in Pittsburgh.
In a way, they're all issues with maturity, whether physical or emotional. When he left the New York Rangers at age 36, Jagr still had this nagging ambition to be THE GUY for that team, both in ice time and in salary.
He's older now, perhaps a bit humbler. He demanded $7 million from Glen Sather in 2008; had he done the same in 2011, Ken Holland and Ray Shero would have texted each other with "LOL" and then given him Dale Tallon's FAX number in Florida.
We don't see Jagr as a locker room cancer or anything of the like. The real issue, and perhaps the only one worth debating for Penguins and Red Wings and Devils Mystery Team fans:
Can Jaromir Jagr help my team on the ice in 2011-12, or is this just a momentary lapse in which nostalgia conquers logic?