Thursday, December 29, 2011

Get Us to the Game: The Politics of Jagr; The Unbearable Uncertainty of Crosby

By Artistry

Most of the time when we talk about emotions on this website, it's with tongue planted firmly in cheek (don't tell anyone). But not today.  The Philadelphia Flyers are in town to play the Penguins, and there are just so many feelings to unpack before we get to the game.

- Let's discuss the notion of emotional intelligence. I'm talking about the ability to perceive, understand, and manage emotions.  Max Talbot has some.  Jaromir Jagr doesn't seem to have very much at all.  Observe.

- Fortunately for Jaromir Jagr, he's a hockey player, and not a surgeon, teacher, or police officer charged with quelling a riot. If you've played the game, or if you ever watched Mario Lemieux, you know that intense rage can turn a skilled man with a puck on his stick into a human tornado. And Jagr has the puck on his stick a lot.

Breaking down the Jagr equation and how to manage Crosby emotions, after the jump...

- On the other end of this emotional equation sit the Penguins fans who believe either that Jagr deserves a place on Joe Starkey's Mt. Rushmore of hated ex-Pittsburgh athletes or that his accomplishments in a Penguins uniform should somehow immunize him from criticism.  The haters, I suspect, may be too young to remember Jagr's early years in Pittsburgh, when he was just a kid in the truest sense of the word.  He loved Kit Kat bars, he got speeding tickets, he idolized Mario Lemieux, and if you left him alone in the morning, he'd go out dressed like this.

Jagr's only real sin is that when expectations changed, he didn't.  In many ways that make for an unseemly adult, he's still a baby.  If you expend energy hating Jaromir Jagr, you're not only misplacing valuable emotional currency but you also might miss out on appreciating a truly historic talent.

To those who would defend Jagr's off-ice actions, stop.  Yes, the media made the whole "My heart is in Pittsburgh" - wait - "I'm going to Philadelphia" story much more dramatic than it needed to be, but for Jagr to plead ignorance about the effect of his actions on Pittsburgh fans is disingenuous, immature, and graceless.

- We love watching Jaromir Jagr.

- The Jagr and Talbot return is but a small wave cresting on the ocean of emotion surrounding Sidney Crosby's health.  We perceive the emotion. We understand it. But we can't manage it. So we mostly just ignore it unless and until we're given something positive to latch on to.  This nugget buried in the 11th paragraph of Thursday's Josh Yohe story qualifies:

"Two sources in the Penguins' organization said they expect Crosby to play again this season."

- The accompanying news that Kris Letang is "feeling better" is enough to even put a little hop in our step this morning.

As a reward for managing your emotions, you can let them run free during the GTOG podcast after the game. LGP.

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