Date of Last Contract: October 18, 2001
Signed Through: 2007-2008 Season
Jagr gets record pact from Caps
By Dave Fay
The Washington Times
October 19, 2001
The marriage between superstar Jaromir Jagr and the Washington Capitals became a long-term affair yesterday when the right wing signed a contract that is worth at least $78 million and possibly $88 million.
The deal, not exactly the best-kept secret in town, cancels out the two years Jagr had left on his current pact and gives him a seven-year contract with an option for an eighth season that belongs to the club but can be Jagr's if he achieves "easily obtainable performance criteria," according to his agents.
Jagr, 29, will make an average of $11 million a season whether the deal is seven or eight years. If it ends after seven, he is guaranteed a $1 million sendoff package.
"He is the highest-paid player in the league right now," said principal owner Ted Leonsis, who will pay his star this season alone more than twice what the team's total payroll was 20 years ago. Colorado's Peter Forsberg also had been scheduled to make $11 million this season, but he has taken a leave of absence and is not being paid.
Jagr said the completion of the deal is not exactly a load off his shoulders because he was concentrating on hockey, not a contract, all along.
"I always concentrate on hockey," he said. "I always put this stuff on the side, because when you start thinking about contract, you're not going to play good, and you don't get the money. If you concentrate on hockey and if you play good, the other things going to come. I know that for a fact. If you play like the best player, you're going to get paid like the best player. If I start thinking about money, then I stop playing and it's a lot harder to get the money."
Of immediate concern to Caps fans is whether the star has recovered enough from the knee strain he sustained Oct. 10 to return to action tonight at MCI Center against Montreal. Jagr left the game in Madison Square Garden 15 minutes into the first period and has not played since, missing three games.
"He looked fine but again we're still talking day-to-day," said coach Ron Wilson after yesterday's practice, the first in which Jagr took part since he was hurt. He was wearing a leg brace for the first time, and at first it appeared to hamper his skating. By the end of the drills, however, he seemed to be almost back to normal.
"It looks fairly good right now for [tonight´s game], but that's a decision we'll make [after the morning skate] or just before the game," Wilson said. Jagr agreed that yesterday's skate alone was not enough to determine if he should come back immediately but said he would know more today.
"You're always going to have injuries in the course of a season, and we've got enough depth to overcome injuries," Wilson said. "The problem is, you have the travel that's been dumped in our laps so early in the season. Even though we've only played a few games, it's tiring with the travel schedule we have."
Getting Jagr's name etched on a long-term deal takes one major headache away from the team. There are no more worries about the five-time scoring champion opting for unrestricted free agency when his old contract expired.
"We made a very good deal this summer, and I think it just got better," said general manager George McPhee. "We had some concerns about only having two years in the deal with Jaromir, so essentially we've torn up that deal and have a new seven-year deal."
McPhee said it took only three to four weeks to put the whole package together and the basics were in place two weeks ago, an amazingly short time for a contract of such proportions.
"We knew he was a great player ... [but] Jaromir is really a good man," Leonsis said. "He's a fit like a hand in a glove here. [The owners] felt this was the right thing for the team and the right thing for the city. We told George to figure out how to do it, and Jaromir was very reasonable ... he is the highest paid player in the league right now."