2007-02-02 / Sports

Shanahan Defends Jagr's Honor With Message To Refs

By Joe McDonald Sports Columnist

By Joe McDonald
Sports Columnist

NEW YORK - He doesn't get it. No, not why the Rangers 2-1 loss to Toronto on Wednesday. Brendan Shanahan just doesn't understand why the referees have it out for Jaromir Jagr.

And he let the press know about that after the game.

"I don't know what the deal is," he said. "Guys hit [Jagr] late; guys hit him high; guys hook his hands he doesn't complain; he just goes out and plays. The referees just seem to have a different set of rules about the way people get to play against him.

"The NBA didn't let people grab Jordan by the waist every time he went up for a jump shot, and Jags has to play through that all season. I have seen it and been amazed about it all year. It's not just tonight, it's every night.

"Not since [Slava] Fetisov came over from Russia have I seen a star player ignored like that, and I know why they were ignoring him. I don't know if it's because Jaromir has the puck all night and if they were to make the calls, they'd have to call five or six penalties a game that he draws."

The outspoken All-Star has criticized the referees before in what he perceives as a bias against his team. Earlier in the season, he held court saying the Rangers were getting more penalties called on them compared to opposing teams and now, he has singled out the treatment of Jagr.

"I've played with other superstars and they get a whole lot more respect than this guy. Mats Sundin goes down first period, first shift - penalty. Jaromir Jagr's gotta carry guys on his back all season long," Shanahan said.

"It didn't happen to Steve Yzerman, didn't happen to Nik Lidstrom, it never happened to Mike Modano. Joe Sakic - I've seen it all. There's a certain amount of respect - guys who have the puck on their stick a lot draw penalties. Jags never draws penalties. There's a different set of rules refs have for him. It's a different set of rules for Jaromir Jagr."

Shanahan said it could be because Jagr is so big, he doesn't get knocked down, but coach Tom Renney was lost for answers. "You have to wonder," the coach said. "It's just as simple as that. I don't know if there is a biased. I don't know what happens to other teams and their best players. By the nature of how he plays, people should observe that and I am not suggesting the referees should know what's happening. You have to think they do their homework."

Renney, though, was happy with the way Jagr plays. "With the way diving is called these days, it's a good thing he doesn't go down."

Shanahan is a smart player and he knows that as Jagr goes, so do the Rangers. By putting it in the press, the future Hall of Famer is placing it in the spotlight, so maybe there will be more calls the Rangers way, during the stretch run.

"It's time to say something on his behalf. He's not going to complain, so I am going to do it for him."

And maybe now a call or two will go Jagr's way.

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