Thursday night marked the much-anticipated return of Jaromir Jagr to the city of Pittsburgh.
As expected, the Penguin faithful at the CONSOL Engery Center did not welcome back their former superstar with open arms, repeatedly booing No. 68 every time he touched the puck.
However, it was Jagr who got the last laugh, netting a goal in the second period to help the Philadelphia Flyers earn a 4-2 victory over the Pens. The game also marked the return to Pittsburgh for former Penguin Max Talbot, who signed with the Flyers over the offseason. Surprisingly, Talbot received a standing ovation, but perhaps Pens fans now regret the gesture of kindness after Talbot hit the empty-net goal to seal the Flyers’ triumph.
The victory helped snap the Flyers out of a 1-3-1 funk and ended a four-game winning streak for the Penguins. Philadelphia is now tied with the New York Rangers for first place in the Atlantic Division.
But the talk of the night was Jarg’s return to where he started his career. The fifth overall pick by the Penguins in the 1990 NHL draft, Jagr is arguably the second-best player in the history of the franchise. He was traded to the Capitals in 2001 because the then-cash-strapped organization couldn’t afford him. Despite the fact that the decision to move Jagr was mutual, he has been hated in the Steel City ever since.
When he announced this offseason that he would be returning to the NHL, most figured that the he would return to the team that drafted him. However, in a move that caught most people off guard, Jagr decided to go to the Pens’ crosstown rival and don the orange and black.
Jagr may have had a chance to have his No. 68 retired by the Penguins, but the sight of watching him skate around in a Flyers sweater on the Penguins’ ice probably killed that possibility.