July 3, 2012
Jokinen excited about opportunity with Jets
By KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency
WINNIPEG - Olli Jokinen wants to help the Winnipeg Jets get to the next level.
The newest member of the Jets addressed the media on a conference call from Finland on Tuesday morning and talked about being part of a team that’s in the process of trying to make the playoffs.
“I had two other offers, but I looked at Winnipeg’s lineup and it’s an up-and-coming team,” said Jokinen, who had 23 goals and 61 points last season with the Calgary Flames. “I thought it was going to be a good fit for me. I can help this team take that next step.”
Jokinen, 33, has been a productive player during his 14 NHL seasons, surpassing 20 goals on seven occasions, 30 goals on four occasions and putting up nine seasons of 50 points or better.
He’s not joining the Jets to coast into retirement either.
“In the last year and a half, I changed my game and the credit goes to Brent (Sutter). He taught me how to play good in both ends and how to play against other teams top lines and to be more helpful to the team,” said Jokinen, who has played 1,042 NHL games and signed a two-year deal worth $9 million on Monday night.
“Not just to get points and score goals. My expectations going into the season, whatever the role is going to be and whoever I get to play with, I’m going to do what coach (Claude Noel) wants me to do.”
Jokinen knew that returning to the Flames wasn’t an option for him.
“Oh yeah, I knew right after the season that as soon as they announced Brent was not going to stay there, I knew my time was up too,” said Jokinen. “That’s OK. I understand that as well. I know what it takes, what it takes to play in a Canadian market. If the team doesn’t make the playoffs, there are going to be changes. What’s the easiest way to make changes? Not to sign expiring contracts. You’re not going to keep those guys around.
“My whole thing is when I went back to Calgary two years ago, I wanted to prove to people that I can still play in the league and I wanted to help that team get into the playoffs. That’s all. I was able to do one of those things. I was time for me to move on.”
Jokinen said he’s happy to continue playing in a passionate Canadian market and that his family is fully supportive.
“My family loves living in Canada and they are not afraid of cold weather,” said Jokinen. “My kids, they love the snow. That was a very easy decision, at the end of the day, to choose Winnipeg.”
The Jets have also signed winger Alexei Ponikarovsky and defenceman Derek Meech during free agency.
Among their priorities going forward is finding a backup goalie and continuing negotiations on a new contract for restricted free agent Evander Kane.
In other NHL free agency knews, Brandon product Bryce Salvador has agreed to terms on a three-year deal to stay with the New Jersey Devils worth $9.5 million.
Salvador, 36, is coming off a solid playoff that saw him produce four goals and 14 points in 24 games as the Devils reached the Stanley Cup final before bowing out in six games to the Los Angeles Kings.
Salvador has 23 goals and 102 points in 692 NHL games.