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Barry Pederson on D&C: Jaromir Jagr ‘a star, not a superstar’

04.03.13 at 9:55 am ET
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NESN’s Barry Pederson talked to Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday about the impact Jaromir Jagr could have on the Bruins, what he’ll have to do to fit into the B’s system, and Patrice Bergeron‘s situation after leaving Tuesday’s game with an injury.

Pederson said he thinks Jagr will thrive in a supporting role, similar to the one he played in Philadelphia last year, not to mention in Pittsburgh when he first broke into the league.

“He’s coming to a good team that he’s just trying to make great,” Pederson said. “He’s probably a star, not a superstar. He’s definitely a top-six forward, and I think the other thing it does for this team is it brings in competition. For the coach, he doesn’t have to do a lot of yelling, or say a lot of things in the press. Just, ‘OK you’re not going on the top two lines, I’ve got another forward here, a Hall of Famer that wants to come in here and play.’ ”

Pederson played with Jagr on the Cup-winning 1990-91 Penguins team in Jagr’s first season in the NHL. He said Jagr had his own “Euro fashion” off the ice, but that on the ice he exhibited the qualities that have kept him among the league’s top players to this day.

“He came over with all kinds of raw talent,” Pederson said. “You have to remember, on that team, with [Mario] Lemieux there, he was the guy that was kind of making all those eyes turn. But what I remember about [Jagr] the most at a young age was how gifted he was, lower body down. Similar to a Ray Bourque where you have those strong legs and that big butt, you couldn’t knock him over. He had a great release. He’d go to those dirty areas and had a knack for getting in front and scoring big goals.”

Despite Jagr causing some locker-room controversy in his earlier days, Pederson said he believes Jagr has matured into a veteran leader.

“I think you’re going to be surprised as to what you’re going to hear in the dressing room,” Pederson said. “When you read all the accounts of Philadelphia … they think they really missed his presence in the locker room. I think he’s really matured as a person and i think that’s really going to show here.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Bruins coverage, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.

On Peter Chiarelli’s approach to getting Jagr: “You didn’t have to give up as much as you did to get [JaromeIginla. Where you’ve got to give Peter Chiarelli a lot of credit … he didn’t give up a lot, and I think the thing for people to remember is that when you hear the GMs like Peter talk about how difficult it is to make a trade, because there are so many teams still in it, just remember, next year the salary cap goes down. You’re going to have those compliance buyout opportunities, but all those draft picks and those young players that you’ve accumulated are going to be worth a lot more over the summer. There’s going to be a lot of teams that are going to have salary cap issues next year.”

On where Jagr will play: “He’ll be on the first power-play unit, no doubt about that. I think he’ll probably start him on the third line just because you’re starting to see the top two lines, especially the [DavidKrejci line, pick things up a little bit. I just don’t envision Jagr being a third-line player. I can see Nathan Horton filling that role a little bit better because he’s a little more physical.”

On Jagr fitting into a new locker room: “Some of Claude [Julien]‘s defensive systems are a little different. There’s a certain accountability and responsibility that he’ll have to pick up on. But I don’t think it’ll be all that different, especially from his Philadelphia days. He’s going to come in here and be a piece of the puzzle. He doesn’t have to be the savior here.

“He’s going to be very important on the power play. I think his front-of-the-net presence is going to be good and I think, as young kids, you’re going to see him, similar to Mark Recchi, go to those areas that are not comfortable. He scores as many as he has for a reason. He is hard to move in front of the net because he’s so strong in the legs, and he plays big in the sense that the big defensemen can’t move him.”

On Jagr still playing at 41: “Similar to, say, Ray Bourque, it just shows how good these players really are. They may lose a step or so, but they’re so intelligent, they know the game so well, their experience allows them to do other things. You’re also talking about two guys that keep themselves in unbelievable condition off the ice.”

On what happens if Patrice Bergeron is out long term: “That hurts. It really hurts. Up front, he’s the most valuable player because of everything he does. He is just a really special kid. He gets it. He is very mature beyond his years. He’s a kid that sacrifices on both sides, great faceoff guy, quiet leader, goes out and plays consistently every night. I think he’s really brought along [BradMarchand and [Tyler] Seguin. I think Jagr will also help out in that because he’s got a tremendous work ethic off the ice as well. I think you don’t really appreciate it because [Bergeron] does so many things quietly that when he’s out of the lineup, it’s like, ‘Oh, my, do we ever miss him.’ ”

On his teammates’ reaction and whether it’s a long-term injury: “It’s tough to speculate on these things. We saw the replay and it looks like that’s what it was [a concussion], and with his history you have to kind of assume that. I think you also hear that sadness because of the respect they have for him. The way they carry themselves and the way they play every night, so hard and so consistently, not only offensively but defensively — you can see the respect for those type of players around the league. When they talk about the Bruins in every other city fondly, the first guys they go to are Bergeron and [Zdeno] Chara.”

On whether the Bruins have a goalie controversy: “No. I think that Tuukka [Rask] is obviously the No. 1 guy. I think Claude’s just trying to manage. As crazy as March has been, April doesn’t really give you much more of a rest or a down period. [AntonKhudobin to me is one of the great surprises. I think it puts this organization in great position come playoff time — I think Tuukka should be well rested, but I don’t see any goaltending controversy whatsoever and in fact it’s kind of a luxury for a coach to be able to have that.”

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