SUN Hockey Pool

By George, scorer's at home!

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:45 AM ET

Stealing Dubya's spotlight on just his third night in the city, newcomer Olli Jokinen is getting the idea of just how important hockey is north of the border.

Dining at Kensington's Osteria de Medici restaurant Monday, the newest member of the Flames watched as George W. Bush strolled in with his entourage.

Rumour has it patrons were just as excited about the Finnish centre's presence as the former U.S. president.

"I don't think that's true," Jokinen said with a smile.

"I went to dinner and it was kind of pretty funny. I was like, 'What's going on here?' There was all kinds of security.

"I was able to see through the window a little bit, the ex-president. It was kind of cool."

People in the city are feeling the same way about finally landing Jokinen after years of speculation the 6-foot-3, 215-pounder would become a Flame after the trade deadline.

As he searches for a place to call home, the easily-recognizable 30-year-old already has a feel for the community.

"It's a big difference to be here in Canada," said Jokinen, who hasn't tasted playoff hockey in his decade-long NHL career while playing with the Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders, Florida Panthers and Phoenix Coyotes.

"You can see, feel that hockey is everything for people here in Calgary."

Toiling in virtual anonymity in Florida and Phoenix, walking the streets of the community is about as likely to draw a crowd as one of the Panthers' or Coyotes' games.

Jokinen will attract more than a few stares and autograph seekers during his tenure here.

"People have been treating me very nice so far," he said.

"They're gonna leave me alone. They don't bother me too much."

Rewarding the locals with good hockey is Jokinen's plan.

With 10 points in his first six games as a Flame, he's off to a strong start.

Even he's slightly stunned by the quick adjustment.

"A little bit surprised," he said.

"But playing with great players, coming to a winning team, it's been an easy place to come to."


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