It might get loud when Jaromir Jagr touches the puck Tuesday night at Verizon Center. But not in the kind of way he might like.
Jagr spent a 2½ disappointing seasons with the Washington Capitals from 2001-2004 as his production did not live up to expectations or his paycheck. This won’t be his first time back in Washington since leaving, but it will be the first time during his return to the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers after a brief stint in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.
“He will be booed every time he touches the puck,” one fan wrote on Twitter. “Possibly the biggest waste of money in Capitals history.”
Jagr, now 39, has 24 points in 24 games for the Eastern Conference-leading Flyers. He had 121 points for the Pittsburgh Penguins the season before the Caps acquired him but his point totall fell off to 79 and 77 in his two full years here.
“I don’t like that arena much. I’ve not really had luck there,” Jagr said of Verizon Center. “It’s a tough place to play, even if I was in Pittsburgh and New York. It was always tough. But hopefully we can stay on winning.”
The Flyers might need production from Jagr to keep rolling along. They’ve won five straight games but will be without leading scorer Claude Giroux (head) when they face the Caps.
Jagr isn’t in his prime anymore, but Dale Hunter – who faced the right wing often during his playing days – is not surprised by this resurgence.
“He looks in great shape and he’s moving his legs,” Hunter said. “You commit yourself like he has, and he’s having a great season.”
Caps defenseman Karl Alzner, on the other hand, grew up watching Jagr and didn’t get a chance to see him on the ice face-to-face until a game in Philadelphia in October. He was held without a point, but Alzner was impressed in more ways than one.
“Playing against him last time, he is hard because he’s good at defending the puck,” Alzner said. “He’s great with his stick and he’s still got a little bit of the pre-lockout rules in him – you can tell with his clutching and grabbing. He gets away with it pretty good. He’s a smart player.”
And the 23-year-old Alzner doesn’t care about Jagr being 39.
“He’s one of the best players ever to play in this league and to play the game,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what age he’s going to be, he’s still going to bring something to the table.”