May 25, 2013 Sections
Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Olli Jokinen is accustomed to picking up and starting over and so that part of his move to the Winnipeg Jets – his seventh NHL team -- won’t be a difficult transition.
In fact, the big Finnish centre believes it could be quite invigorating to his career.
"It was an exciting team to watch last year, and exciting team to play against," Jokinen said of the Jets Tuesday morning in a conference call from Finland. "They’ve got high speed, they skate well and they play exciting hockey. It’s going to be great and I can’t want to get started."
Jokinen’s addition to the Jets became official late Monday when he signed a two-year, $9 million contract. His arrival helps upgrade a team that was looking for more size – he is 6-3, 210 pounds – and an offensive boost to its first two lines. The 33-year-old veteran of 1,042 NHL games is coming off a season in which he finished second in scoring for the Calgary Flames with 23 goals and 38 assists.
But when the Flames elected not to bring back head coach Brent Sutter, Jokinen knew his time as a Flame was about to come to an end.
"I know what it means to play in a Canadian market. If a team doesn’t make the playoffs there’s going to be changes and the easiest way to make changes is not to re-sign the expiring contracts," said Jokinen.
Jokinen said he had two other offers to mull over since becoming an unrestricted free agent on Canada Day. And he chose the Jets not only because of the financial terms, but because of the opportunity to be an older player on a young up-and-coming squad.
"I wanted to make sure my family is comfortable," he said. "My family loves living in Canada. They’re not afraid of cold weather and my kids love the snow.
"At the end of the day it was a decision where I thought Winnipeg was a better fit for me than the two other teams. The more I was thinking and talking with my agent we came to the decision that at this time in my career it’s the best situation for me. I can go to a place and help a team hopefully take that next step and at the same time I can be part of something good. There’s a lot of good young guys and so as an older guy it gives you energy, it gives you excitement."