It's no joke: Jokinen slams cheap cracks

 

On trade deadline day, TSN analyst Matthew Barnaby reported that some players in the Western Conference were actually predicting the pending demise of the Calgary Flames -- due to the acquisition of a dressing-room "cancer" in Olli Jokinen.

 
 
 
 
 

On trade deadline day, TSN analyst Matthew Barnaby reported that some players in the Western Conference were actually predicting the pending demise of the Calgary Flames -- due to the acquisition of a dressing-room "cancer" in Olli Jokinen.

After courting the big centre for years, the Flames finally reeled Jokinen in at the deadline from Phoenix in exchange for Matthew Lombardi, Brandon Prust and a first-round draft pick.

"It's always tough to hear," Jokinen said of the verbal shot delivered before a national television audience. "I think it's kind of a little bit unfair. They should ask the players I played with on the same team in the past."

"I guess reporters have to make their names for themselves, as well. I don't really know where these rumours are coming from."

He hopes his fellow employees in Calgary give him a fair shake and form their own opinions instead of relying on a televised scouting report on his character.

"The guys have been nice here," he said. "Nobody's been giving me a hard time. It's been easy to come here.

"I'm just going in a new locker-room and you have to earn the respect. ... What matters at the end of the day is that you earn the respect of your teammates."

If first impressions count, the 30-year-old Finn has earned the early respect of his new colleagues as a Flame. Through five games, Jokinen has five goals.

He also scored the game winner in a 6-5 shootout victory Thursday over the Detroit Red Wings.

Most importantly, he's on the verge of breaking free of the burden as the man with the most career NHL games (785) without a single appearance in the post-season.

"We all have the same goal here," he said. "And that's going far, and that's what I'm going to do. You've just got to work hard."

Contrary to the rumours, Jokinen said he gets along with his teammates.

"In the past, I made really good friends in Phoenix," he said. "I have a lot of good friends still playing in Florida. Playing with guys like Joe Nieuwendyk and Gary Roberts ...I learned a lot from them."

He also heard tales of the insane pressure and passion that accompany playoff hockey in Canada.

So no, Jokinen is not content to make millions play in a sun destination like Florida in Phoenix -- if it means zero chance at winning a Stanley Cup.

"At this time of the year, in a lot of years, I've been making summer-vacation plans," he said. "Because my team's been out of the playoffs."

Thanks to Jokinen's heroics, the Flames snapped a three-game losing streak on Thursday with the come-from-behind victory in Detroit.

Jokinen opened the scoring for Calgary by swatting the puck towards the net from behind the goal line, only to watch it squirt through the pads of Ty Conklin.

The second goal came as a direct result of driving to the net.

And the shootout marker? "I knew he was good, but I

hadn't seen his moves," said Calgary goalie Miikka Kiprusoff. "I know he has good hands, so I was counting on him."

The Flames are counting on Jokinen to play a major role in the quest to finish first in the Northwest Division and go deep into the playoffs.

 
 
 
Font:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Your voice