With the news that Olli Jokinen has suffered a minor injury in last night’s pre-season tilt with the Phoenix Coyotes, I thought it was time to look deeper into the man they call the Joker.
If you read my column, and I believe there is maybe one person out there who does (Hi Dad!), you know I have never, how can I best put it, enjoyed having Olli Jokinen troll the ice wearing the Flaming C. When he was traded in the fire sale last season, I was elated, even if the Flames received two NHL wash-outs in return.
But to understand the situation in its present state, let us go back to the beginning when the Flames initially traded for Olli.
Upon his arrival in Calgary Jokinen blossomed instantaneously.
He scored eight goals and added another two assists in those first six games with the Flames; including a five-point night against the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, the Flames lost four for those six games and blew one of the biggest division leads ever to the Vancouver Canucks and ended up facing Chicago in the first round of the playoffs. And, well, we all know how that turned out.
After that hat-trick game in the big smoke, Olli failed to register a single goal the rest of the regular season. Heck, he only had a measly five points in the remaining 13 games. He followed that up by scoring all of seven goals in October, November, and December of last season, prompting a majority of people in Calgary to turn on him, and then the franchise turned on him by trading him away to the Rangers. Good riddance, or so we thought.
Side Note: His first regular season goal on Saddledome ice was scored on October 28th, 2009. He was acquired in March of 2009. Think about it.
The day he was re-signed back in July, I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The one player who I never thought would be back in Flames threads had unceremoniously returned for two years and with a no-trade clause to boot. The entire hockey world was speechless; they were without speech. Well to be honest, they were all just laughing really hard and scratching their heads.
But now I, and any Flames fan, have to accept what has happened and try and make the best out of a bizarre situation.
So, this is my attempt to look at the situation in a positive light, or at least I will give it my best shot.
He comes in at a salary of $3 million, which is $2.25 million less than he was making last season. Therefore, he comes in with much lower expectations which should make any feat that he does accomplish rather acceptable. He also comes to Calgary with a new line-mate in Alex Tanguay, a perennial passer of the puck. A big reason why Olli never worked in Calgary was due to the fact that he was being pressured, whether he was aware or not, to get Iggy the puck. This combination failed miserably and Jokinen became the kid that everyone threw spit balls at in class. With Tanguay now here, it might relieve Jokinen of said pressure and allow him to return to the form that brought him all his success in Florida when he was regarded as one of the best snipers in the league.
The funny thing is that I actually quite liked Jokinen when he played in Florida. He was a big body up the middle who could score in bunches; he seemed like the ideal center. I have never been so wrong since I was convinced that “Wild Wild West” was going to be a good movie because I thought the theme song was catchy.
I’m still baffled every time I see Olli back in Flames gear. But I guess this is the way it is going to be.
For once actually, I hope he is not injured that badly (from all early indications it seems minor) as the Flames are already without Stajan and Langkow, their other two most reliable centermen.
How will Olli fair this year? Your guess is as good as mine. I won’t be surprised if he scores 30 and puts up 35 assists, better yet I would be in a state of euphoria. But then again, I won’t bat an eyelash when the “Olli Jokinen and Calgary Flames Experiment Version 2.0” goes down in a giant ball of Flames.