Jokinen OK with pace Flames take to talk contract
RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency
|Flames forward Olli Jokinen skates during a game against the Blues at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alta., Oct. 28, 2011. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)
SAN JOSE - Olli Jokinen makes no bones about his desire to remain with the Calgary Flames beyond this season, which would require a new contract.
However, Jokinen, who is due to be an unrestricted free agent July 1, isn’t stressing about inking a new pact before the Feb. 27 trade deadline or even the Canada Day opening of free agency.
“If they decide a deal today, I’m OK. If they decide a deal at the end of June, I’m OK. If they decide a deal July 1, I’m OK. Whatever (the Flames) think is best for them, they will do,” he said. “Some guys don’t want to think about a deal, but I’ve been around enough to know my job is to play my best every day. It’s not a distraction to me. For some guys, it could be a distraction, but my main focus is to try to bring it every night.”
Jokinen’s agent, Ian Pulver, has met with Flames brass about a new contract for the centre, who returned to the club in the summer of 2010 after signing a two-year deal worth US$3 million per season.
The Flames would be in a tough situation if Jokinen left via free agency, with the only centres signed behind this season being Blair Jones and Matt Stajan. Mikael Backlund is due to be a restricted free agent.
One school of thought believes the Flames should — if they fall out of the playoff picture before the deadline — trade Jokinen to a contender for draft picks or prospects and bring him back via free agency.
Jokinen, who went into Wednesday night’s game with the San Jose Sharks having collected 13 goals and 41 points in 53 games, didn’t sound too warm to such an idea.
“It’s not that simple. You can go to a different team and may not spend time with your family for four months, if you go to the finals,” he said. “Maybe people don’t understand what kind of sacrifice families make. It’s tough on the kids and tough on the wife, when you move all the time.
“I don’t have to worry about it because I have a no-movement clause in my contract.”
When Jokinen was acquired by the Flames from the Phoenix Coyotes at the 2009 trade deadline, his family remained in Arizona because his daughters had school until the end of May.
When the Flames traded him to the New York Rangers on Feb. 2, 2010, his wife and daughters went to their home in Florida.
IN THE CREASE
Normally, this is the time of year the San Jose Sharks have pulled away from the rest of the Pacific Division. It hasn’t happened this season — at least, not yet
“We’re still trying to catch up to everybody as far as games played, and when we get there, we’ll see where we’re at,” Sharks head coach Todd McLellan said. “We haven’t been comfortable at all. In the past, we’ve pulled ahead and been able to go to sleep for a little bit, and we have. When you look at the real standings by points, we shouldn’t be comfortable at all. We do remind the players of that.”
The Sharks went into Wednesday’s game leading the Los Angeles Kings by two points but with four games in hand.
However, the Sharks had the sixth highest point total in the Western Conference.
The Sharks end a brief homestand Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks before going on a nine-game road trip.
OFF THE GLASS
Based on the scores in the previous two meetings between the Sharks and theFlames this season — 2-1 in a shootout and 1-0 — nobody was expecting a high-scoring affair. “This may be the first game in NHL history won zero to minus-1,” one wag mused in the pressbox before puck drop ... One day after officially announcing his retirement from the NHL, Owen Nolan, a former Sharks captain and a Flames forward during the 2007-08 season, dropped the ceremonial puck to a thunderous and lengthy ovation from the sellout crowd.