Flashback: The Rangers 2001 Pursuit Of Jaromir Jagr

On July 11th, 2001, the financially strapped Pittsburgh Penguins traded Jaromir Jagr to the Washington Capitals for Kris Beech, Michal Sivek, Ross Lupaschuk. The Rangers had significant interest in acquiring Jagr but would not pay the reported price for him. Instead, the Rangers acquired Eric Lindros from the Philadelphia Flyers.

This is a look back, through the NY Post archives, of the Rangers failed pursuit of Jagr.

June 17, 2001: Larry Brooks writes that the Rangers will not offer Tomas Kloucek, Pavel Brendl, Mike York and the 10th overall pick to Pittsburgh for Jagr. Brooks writes that he expects the Rangers to offer York, the 10th overall pick, any defenseman in the organization besides Brian Leetch or Tomas Kloucek and “perhaps” Jan Hlavic for Jagr. On moving the 10th pick, which the Rangers would use to select Dan Blackburn, Glen Sather told Brooks “I’ve said that I intend to build the organization through youth, but trading the 10th overall pick isn’t the end of the world. It’s not something I’m anxious to do, but it’s not out of the question.”

June 19, 2001: Jagr is believed to want to come to the Rangers and the Penguins covet defenseman Tomas Kloucek.

 June 24, 2001: The Rangers submitted an offer for Jagr that was deemed “beyond comical,” according to Brooks. The Rangers offer was supposedly Valeri Kamensky, Tim Taylor and $10 million. Brooks notes that the market for Jagr is thin and that with other players, like Eric Lindros and Joe Sakic, available, the Rangers tried to force the Penguins into taking what they could get for Jagr.

June 29, 2001: Jagr told Glen Sather that he would accept a trade to the Rangers without having a contract extension in place. Jagr had two years left on his deal, worth $10.3 million per season. The Rangers, and one other team, were granted permission to negotiate with Jagr.

July 1, 2001: The Rangers are willing to throw lots of money at Joe Sakic, maybe $12 million per, but willing to trade for Jagr as a Plan B.

July 2, 2001: After striking out on big free agents, Brooks writes of the Rangers “Sather has to be careful here; very careful. There is, with an MSG Network devoid of the Yankees and with a sliding Knick team, an urgency for the Rangers to be good programming and to add a name to the marquee. But while getting Jagr at reasonable cost is most certainly the right play, stripping the team of its youth – and we’re concerned about NHL youth such as Radek Dvorak and Tomas Kloucek – is not.”

July 3, 2001: The Rangers are believed to be the front runners for Jagr as Jagr said that he would not go to Dallas. Sather also tells Brooks that he called to talk to Pittsburgh GM Craig Patrick and Patrick was out mowing his lawn.

July 5th, 2001: Eric Lindros makes it known that he would accept a trade to the Rangers and the Rangers will have to decide if they want to pursue Jagr or Lindros.

July 10th, 2001: Brett Hull will sign with the Rangers if they acquire Jagr. He will not if they don’t. Washington has emerged as the Rangers competition for Jagr. On Washington, Brooks writes, “Unless Caps GM George McPhee completely guts his team, it’s difficult to imagine the Penguins sending Jagr to Washington, a team the Penguins annually whip in the playoffs like Mike Lange’s rented mule.”

The Rangers are believed to be offering Jan Hlavic, Mike York, Kim Johnsson and however much money the league will allow them to trade as the package needed to acquire Jagr. Pittsburgh wants Radek Dvorak and/or Pavel Brendl and a number one pick.

July 11th, 2001: Brooks writes that the Rangers are the only team in the derby for Jagr and that Patrick must accept Sather’s offer.

And then there’s this. A package of Jan Hlavac, Mike York and Kim Johnsson – if, as believed, is what the Rangers are willing to send to Pittsburgh – can hardly be considered a bag of shells. Hlavac would likely score 35 goals playing on Lemieux’s left side. York, who would become Pittsburgh’s third-line center, would add grit to a team that doesn’t have very much of it, at all. Johnsson, who makes the first pass better than any current Penguin defenseman, would probably play on the first unit.

Moreover, Johnsson is 25, Hlavac will turn 25 during training camp and York is 23. Beyond that, the three combined will earn under $2.1M this coming season. Add it all up (plus the $4M-to-$5M the Dolans will toss into the pot), and one might even argue that the Rangers are giving up too much for Jagr, especially when the Penguins have no choice whatsoever but to move him.

July 12th, 2001: After missing out on Jagr, Larry Brooks writes that it is time to move forward with kids and not Eric Lindros. ” Oh, Patrick would have taken Pavel Brendl and Jamie Lundmark, but the Rangers were – and are – in no position to yield their top two picks from 1999, kids the organization is banking on more than ever to live up to the expectations Neil Smith had when he traded a lot away to select them. Fact is, if Brendl and Lundmark do not emerge as major players within the next three or four years, the Rangers are cooked.”

Sather says to Brooks,  “I guess in the end it gets down to how people evaluate personnel,” the GM told The Post last night. “I knew all along there was a chance this could happen, and I told people a long time ago that I’d only go so far to make a deal.

“Craig told me that Washington was interested, and it’s not that I suspected he was lying, but when we asked [Caps GM] George [McPhee], he told us no, not that I’m accusing him of lying, I don’t know what really to make of that.

“But, really, what it came down to is that I wasn’t prepared to do what Craig had asked me to do in order to make the deal. I’ve said it before and I mean it: I’m not prepared to mortgage the future for any player, not even Jagr. We have to build the organization.”

July 12, 2001.