Jokinen makes strong first impression

- July 3rd, 2012

Olli Jokinen made his first comments to the media on Tuesday morning on a conference call from Finland and you can count me among those who came away impressed.

Jokinen’s a veteran and knows how to play the media game, but he sounded genuine and managed to say a lot of impressive things when discussing why he chose the Winnipeg Jets, instead of two Western Conference teams, one of whom was reported to be the Vancouver Canucks.

“At the end of the day, it was a decision that I thought Winnipeg was a better fit for me than these two other teams,” said Jokinen, a 33-year-old with 1,042 NHL games under him. “The more I was thinking and talking with my agent, we came to the decision that at this time in my career, this is the best situation for me.”

Jokinen spoke a lot about the responsibility of playing in a Canadian market and about accountability, working hard every day to earn ice time and your place on the pecking order.

“I’m a big believer that you have to earn your spot. There’s no guarantees that you’re going to play with this guy or that guy,” said Jokinen, who was chosen third overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. “Every time you step on the ice, you want to do your best and prove to yourself and your teammates every night, that you belong. When you get older, you know there is going to be someone younger to take your spot one day. At the end of the day, you want to play as long as you can, play your best and do your part every single night. And you want to win.”

He talked about having to reinvent his game two years ago when he returned to the Calgary Flames and gave direct credit to Brent Sutter for showing him the way and Darryl Sutter for showing faith in him and believing that he could still be an impact player in the NHL in July of 2012.

For a guy with only six playoff games on his resume, Jokinen sounded determined to do what he could to push the Jets into the post-season (we realize he can’t do it by himself, but a productive season from Jokinen is essential for the Jets to make a push in the Southeast Division).

Jokinen has played with Antti Miettinen with the Finnish National Team and is familiar with goalie coach Wade Flaherty from his time in the New York Islanders and Florida Panthers organizations.

Although he only faced the Jets once last season, Jokinen has a handle on the composition of the roster.

“There’s a lot of talent and a lot of good young players,” said Jokinen. “If you look at the lineup, the goaltending, that’s in place. The goalie we have (Ondrej Pavelec) is a top guy who just signed a big deal there. It was an exciting team to watch last year and an exciting team to play against. They’ve got high speed, they skate well and play exciting hockey. It’s going to be great, I can’t wait to get started.”

Categories: Hockey

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