Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Jaromir Jagr: "I would give the Calder to Ovechkin"

Earlier today, Sport Express ran an interview with New York Rangers forward Jaromir Jagr. As most people know, Jagr is back atop the list of NHL scorers this season, after spending a few sub-par seasons with the Washington Capitals before his trade to the Rangers during the '03-'04 season.

During the interview, Jagr made joking references to the hostile reaction given to him by Capitals fans whenever the Rangers play in Washington (as they just did last weekend), and talked about how happy he is to have left Washington:

"I'd rather be where I am now. I was not allowed to play in the manner that I preferred in Washington. New York is very much to my liking, and I am happy with the Rangers. All of this is very apparent. It is a city of passionate fans that love hockey and love a good team."

When asked about the style changes in the "New NHL", and to compare the NHL to the Russian Super League (where he spent a season playing for Avangard Omsk during the NHL lockout), Jagr responded:

"I was happy within the old NHL. The new rules helped the smaller, faster players. For a power forward like myself, I had an easier time playing the more rugged hockey style. I had no problems whatsoever with breaking away from a clutching defenseman, or two. But the style of play in the Super League cannot be compared with the NHL. There is more area (in European rinks), which gives the game a different character."

When the conversation turned to Alexander Ovechkin, whom Jagr had played against in Russia last season, Jagr had this to say:

"I'm always asked to compare Ovechkin to Crosby. Someone asked me recently what my impressions were of Alex after three meetings on the ice, even though I had seen plenty more than that of him in the Super League, as well as the World Championships. He's an excellent player, obviously, but I can't compare him to Crosby. Ovechkin is an exceptionally strong power forward, who loves to play one-on-one. Crosby is a different sort of forward, a playmaker. As far as who should win the Calder Trophy this season, if I were forced to vote today, I would give the trophy to Ovechkin. But time will show in reality who is better."

The interview closed with a couple of questions about the captaincy of the Rangers, which Jagr had turned down at the beginning of the season:

Why didn't you become the captain of the team?
"This is a question for the coach. However, if we start to play badly, you know who will take all of the blame. That will be me, letter ("C") or no letter."

Do you attempt to take on the role of leader in the lockerroom?
"The one that yells in the lockerroom has no value. The role of the leader must be assumed on the ice."