SUN Hockey Pool

Jokinen's daughter knows best

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

ATLANTA — Given her choice of cities to move to this summer, Olli Jokinen’s 10-year-old daughter chose Calgary.

It was about a week before unrestricted free agency, and Jokinen could only laugh at the answer he received when he asked his kids where they’d like to go July 1 if he had a choice.

“She was saying Calgary,” Jokinen said Tuesday, a year to the day after being traded away by the Flames. “I said, ‘I don’t think that’s possible, but that’s good to know.’ ”

Turns out she’d get her wish, although that seemed extremely unlikely a year ago when Jokinen was dealt to the New York Rangers mid-season along with Brandon Prust for Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins.

“Obviously, I didn’t think I would be back,” Jokinen said. “But everything worked out.”

Reports came out the same day Dion Phaneuf was dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs that Jokinen was on the move to the Rangers. But the team played him the next night and didn’t finalize the trade until after the game.

That made for an odd exit to Jokinen’s first stint with the Flames after they picked him up from the Phoenix Coyotes at the deadline the previous season.

“It was tough. When I came here, I never wanted to leave. I wanted to be part of this team,” Jokinen said. “It was a big surprise, to hear the news, first of all, and getting traded.

“Playing the last game knowing you’re done, it’s kind of weird.”

Almost as weird as being invited back as an unrestricted free agent a few months later.

It was what Jokinen calls a “no-brainer.”

He knew his market value had decreased after a 50-point season and he’d have to take a pay cut wherever he went, but he considers the Flames a first-class organization and loves playing in a Canadian market in front of almost 20,000 people every night.

“On top of that, my family really liked living in Calgary. It’s a lot easier to come back in a place where you know your surroundings, too. A lot easier for a guy who’s got a family,” he said. “It would be a different story if my kids would say they don’t want to go back.”

They did, of course. Jokinen made sure they could stick around, signing a two-year, US$6-million deal with a critical no-movement clause.

“That was huge,” Jokinen said. “I wanted to make sure it was no-move. That was a big thing with the family involved and getting traded the last couple of years, being moved at the trade deadline. It’s always tough.”

Not so much for the player, who can walk into any dressing room and fit right in. But for the family.

“The toughest part is telling your kids, ‘You can’t go to that school anymore. You’re gonna move. Let’s go to this city,’ ” Jokinen said. “You don’t know how long they’re gonna be there, how long you’re gonna be there. At least I know I’m gonna be here for two years now, hopefully longer.”

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