Jokinen hoping to bounce back
RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
|Olli Jokinen has vowed to be a different player this time around with the Calgary Flames. (Al Charest/QMI AGENCY)
Olli Jokinen is admittedly not much of a golfer.
Jokinen's return to the Calgary Flames has its share of controversy, but the centre vows to be a different player this time around.
On the eve of the club's annual charity golf tournament at Country Hills -- which leads into training camp and then the season -- Jokinen said he will bounce back from the performance he gave during his one-year stint in Calgary.
"It was a tough season for me," Jokinen said during Wednesday's meet-and-greet luncheon at the Saddledome. "I know I'm a better player than I was last year, it was one of my worst years in eight or nine years. I ended up getting 50 points, and I know a lot of players in this league would take those points any day, but I want to bounce back to a point-per-game guy and being an elite player, the player I was a few years ago.
"Physically, I feel unbelievable. Mentally, I'm ready to go.
"It's a good feeling."
As much as Jokinen's critics will pan his 75-game performance -- he was acquired at the 2009 trade deadline and dealt to the New York Rangers Feb. 1 -- he collected 50 points (19 goals and 31 assists) in Flames silks, so it's not like he was a total bust.
However, it was nowhere near expectations placed on the player expected to be the big, skilled centreman to skate alongside captain Jarome Iginla, and not up to par for a player making more than US$5 million per season.
The difference this time around, Jokinen said, will be a willingness to shoot the puck more often.
Much more often.
Jokinen has three times come close to the 40-goal mark, but he admitted with the Flames he too often was looking to pass instead of firing shots on goal.
General Manager Darryl Sutter said when he signed Jokinen to a two-year, $6-million deal, he saw the centre as part of a tandem with Alex Tanguay, who is a proven set-up man.
Jokinen, although knowing it's not a slam-dunk they'll play together, loves the idea.
"All my career, I've been more of a shooter than a playmaker -- which is unusual being the centre position -- but I played with Viktor Kozlov in Florida, played on the point and was the guy people passed the puck to," he said. "Last year, it was a different situation, I was looking to pass the puck way too much for Iggy.
"The bottom line is no matter who I play with, I've got to play my game, my style, and be that Olli that was in Florida and Phoenix.
"That means shoot the puck and be a hard guy to play against."
As much as Jokinen wants to disprove his critics in the press box and among the fans, he has extra motivation.
He's part of a handful of players looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2009-10 season, a list which includes the likes of Jay Bouwmeester, Alex Tanguay and Iginla.
"He wasn't happy the way he was playing last year, and I wasn't happy," Jokinen said of himself and Iginla. "We both want to win and I think overall, the whole team, we want to show people.
"We've been criticized a lot for the way we played, and want to bounce back as a team. We want to show everybody we're better than we were last year."