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Penguins Jagr traded to Capitals

Wednesday, July 11, 2001

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The Penguins granted league-leading scorer Jaromir Jagr's wish for a fresh start today, trading him to the Washington Capitals for three prospects.

Jagr, one of hockey's flashiest players during his 11 years in the league, was disappointed the Penguins didn't trade him during last month's NHL draft.

Jaromir Jagr, who won his fourth consecutive scoring title this year in Penguins uniform, will start the new season with the Washington Capitals. (Frank Gunn, AP photo)

The Czech forward played for Stanley Cup-winning Penguins teams in 1991 and 1992. This year, he helped lead them to the Eastern Conference finals while winning a fifth NHL scoring title and his fourth in a row with 121 points. He had 52 goals and 69 assists.

In the deal, announced by Penguins general manager Craig Patrick, the Capitals get Jagr and defenseman Frantisek Kucera, and send Kris Beech, Michal Sivek, Ross Lupaschuk to Pittsburgh.

Patrick said he was delighted with the players Pittsburgh received.

He called Beech the key to the deal and a potential franchise player whose skills are similar to former Penguins great Ron Francis.

Before the deal, the New York Rangers were believed to be the front runner to obtain Jagr. However, Patrick said he was never satisfied with any of the offers made for Jagr until talks with the Capitals became serious "within the last day or so."

Prior to the Capitals' offer, Patrick said he was becoming concerned that the Penguins would not be able to obtain proper value for Jagr.

The trade was hailed by The Washington Post as one of the boldest maneuvers in Washington sporting history.

"Our main objective for the upcoming season was to add offense to our club, and acquiring one of the top offensive players in the league addresses that need," Capitals general manager George McPhee said.

Before Penguins owner-star Mario Lemieux ended his retirement in late December, Jagr was well down the NHL scoring list and had a stretch with only one goal in 12 games.

Twice during the season and once after the playoffs, Jagr asked the Penguins to trade him, and he didn't seem particularly happy even after Lemieux returned and the Penguins made a drive for the Stanley Cup.

"It's probably time for a change," Lemieux himself has said.

Jagr's $20.7 million salary over the next two seasons limited the Penguins' options.

The 29-year-old Jagr won the Hart Trophy as league MVP in 1999, and has played in the NHL All-Star game seven times.

The 6-foot-2, 234-pounder has 439 goals and 640 assists in 806 NHL games, all with Pittsburgh. He's scored at least 27 goals in each of his 11 seasons.

Pittsburgh led the NHL with 281 goals last season, while Washington's offense ranked only 13th.

Beech, 20, played in four games with Washington last season, recording no points and two penalty minutes. In 40 games with Calgary of the Western Hockey League, he ranked fourth on the team in scoring with 66 points (22 goals and 44 assists) and 103 penalty minutes.

The 6-foot-2, 192-pound native of Salmon Arm, British Columbia was drafted by Washington in the first round (seventh overall) of the 1999 Entry Draft. In four-plus seasons with Calgary, he collected 91 goals and 165 assists and 329 penalty minutes in 240 games.

Lupaschuk, 20, ranked fifth on Red Deer of the Western Hockey League in scoring and first among defensemen with 65 points (28 goals and 37 assists) and 135 penalty minutes in 65 games. He ranked fifth in the WHL in defensemen scoring. Of his 28 goals, 15 came on the power play, tied for second on the team. He also scored six game-winning goals. In the playoffs, he added 15 points (5 goals and 10 assists) and 54 penalty minutes in 22 games as Red Deer won the Memorial Cup.

The 6-foot-1, 213-pound native of Edmonton, Alberta was drafted by Washington in the second round (34th overall) of the 1999 Entry Draft. In four junior seasons with Prince Albert and Red Deer, Lupaschuk totaled 167 points (63 goals and104 assists) and 590 penalty minutes in 267 games. He was a teammate of Penguins 2001 first round draft pick Colby Armstrong and 1999 eighth round choice Darcy Robinson at Red Deer.

Sivek, 20, played in 32 games with Sparta Praha in the Czech League, recording six goals and seven assists and 28 penalty minutes. He was drafted by Washington in the second round (29th overall) of the 1999 Entry Draft.

In 1999-00 he collected 23 goals and 37 assists and 65 penalty minutes in 53 games with Prince Albert of the Western Hockey League to rank fourth on the team in scoring. At Prince Albert, he was a teammate of Penguins forward Milan Kraft.

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