Jokinen discovers power of positive thinking

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:00 PM ET

In coming back to Calgary this summer, Olli Jokinen decided to make a change.

He was determined to be a positive person, no matter what happened.

The 2009-10 NHL season took a toll on the veteran Finnish centre, and he didn’t want to relive it.

So now, no matter what happens, it seems the Calgary Flames forward is quick to add a joke or a smile.

On Friday, when TSN’s hard-working reporter Jermain Franklin asked him about rumours he might have been headed to the pressbox as a healthy scratch, Jokinen made a crack.

“I heard they are going to put you on TSN2,” Jokinen said to Franklin.

“That’s the only rumour I heard over the last two weeks.”

Even when trying to answer the question seriously, Jokinen couldn’t help but laugh.

With the help of a sports psychologist in Florida he calls every game day, the 32-year-old is keeping an upbeat, light-hearted attitude.

He decided this summer he would be that guy.

“All summer, I was working trying to enjoy life,” Jokinen said. “You can’t get frustrated. You can’t get upset or you put unnecessary pressure on yourself. It’s not helpful to do that.”

Some might look at Jokinen’s numbers — five goals in 29 games — and say he’s having just as bad a season as last year, when he had 11 tallies in 59 games before being traded to the New York Rangers.

But no matter the numbers, Jokinen is having a better time because he’s not letting the pressure get to him.

“All year, it’s been fun,” Jokinen said. “This should never feel like a job.

“Once you start feeling like it’s a job, it can be frustrating,” Jokinen continued. “You have to enjoy every time you come here. That way, if you stay positive, you can bring good energy.

“You need to stay positive no matter what happens, and you need to have fun, too. At the same time, it’s a work ethic. You need to try and improve every day.”

Something over the past week has clicked, whether Jokinen wants to admit it or not.

Maybe it was the talk about him getting scratched, just as Matt Stajan and now Curtis Glencross have been.

He said the only criticism about his game he ever listens to comes from his own coaching staff, and there was a message sent about a week ago.

Since then, he’s had three goals and two helpers in four games.

“Olli is a player that we needed to be better,” said Flames assistant coach Dave Lowry. “It was made crystal clear to Olli that he needed to be better.

“He’s responded,” Lowry continued. “He’s gone out and played hard. He’s contributed offensively, and he’s doing everything we needed to do to win hockey games.

“When Olli’s stopping and starting, he’s a very good player. When he’s out there circling, and when he gets lazy in his habits, he’s not quite as effective.

“Sometimes he needs a reminder that once he’s starting and stopping, it changes the way he plays and changes his mindset.”

When he scored just two goals in the first 25 games, it was clear Jokinen wasn’t playing up to expectations.

But the 14-year NHL veteran doesn’t mind if people presume he’s still the four-time 30-goal scorer they’ve seen in the past.

“For me, it’s great that I’m in that category,” Jokinen said.

“I would rather be in that category than people expecting me to score five goals a year.”

ian.busby@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/ianbusby57


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