Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jokinen finds silver linings in NHL lockout

Enjoying time spent with family among positives of bad situation

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There have been days when the dominant tone coming from Olli Jokinen is raw anger. Other times the big would-be Winnipeg Jet centre has been the picture of pure frustration.

He has also, on various occasions, had the few reporters who have gathered to watch the Jets practise at MTS Iceplex in turn laughing, nodding like bobble-head dolls in agreement or exiting one of his scrums just plain appreciative of his perspective.

 

Yes, we can definitely say this has emerged as one of the more intriguing local sidebars to the National Hockey League lockout:

A whole lot of folks -- media, fans, teammates alike -- have come to love Jokinen's anything-but-boring take on all things collective bargaining.

So it was again on Wednesday when the 33-year-old Finn offered up his latest take on the ongoing lockout. And if you're looking for sunshine and hope on that front, we suggest you will soon be disappointed.

"Like I said a week ago, I think it's a shame if we miss any games and the season doesn't start on time," began Jokinen. "So we're probably going to have to look at it like we're going to have to miss the whole year. That's the mindset you have to have right now. If you think otherwise, you maybe are keeping your hopes up for nothing.

"The longer you go, the harder it's going to be to get the deal done. That's the way it was last time and I don't see it any differently (now). Every lockout has been longer, so... there's not really anything you should think otherwise."

This is the rational Jokinen speaking, a voice of lockout experience who lost millions in 2004-05 but survived to carve out a respectable 1,042-game NHL career.

This is the Jokinen who comes after the frustrated and angry Jokinen, apparently, and who has settled on resignation and, ultimately, finding silver linings to this whole mess.

"I was more optimistic a few weeks ago and we were hoping for the best," he said. "But it's like last time, everybody is saying, 'It's a good thing that they talk...' OK, maybe that's the only positive thing here if you really want to go into positives.

"I think the most-positive thing is you can stay active with your kids. You can enjoy the things that you don't normally get the chance to enjoy. At the same time you respect your wife a lot more because you start to realize what they go through in the year, you know?

"This is our job, but at the end of the day you don't want this whole lockout to affect your normal life because once you get to that point then it affects your everyday life. I try not to bring my work home. I've always been that way and I'll still be that way."

Jokinen insists he doesn't wake up in the morning and dive right into news, or lack of news, about the lockout. Having lived through it before, he knows the situation can be all consuming -- and not in a healthy way -- if a player lets it.

Most of all, he's come to understand he has to trust his NHL Players' Association brethren at the negotiating table can cut a fair deal.

In the meantime, all he can do is wait and hope for a quick resolution -- like the rest of us watching this drama unfold.

"I just think they should get the deal done so we can start hockey," he said with a shrug. "The rest of the stuff... you've got to fill papers, but at the end of the day there are going to be less and less stories because there's nothing to talk about. You shouldn't even be talking about it. You should be filling the pages with the NHL, with the MLB playoffs, the CFL.

"The good thing is they're meeting and they're talking and that could lead to other things. If there is silence on both sides and they're not even meeting then I think it's worse.

"It is what it is. You have to be prepared and willing to miss the year."

ed.tait@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @WFPEdTait

SCHEIFELE SLIDING?

 

Read into this what you will, Jets fans, but Mark Scheifele has dropped considerably in Hockey Future's latest prospect rankings. The Jets' top pick in 2011 has fallen from No. 14 in the spring to No. 32 in the fall ranking released this week.

The editors' rationale?

"He was not as dominant in performances for Canada at the WJC and his OHL production slipped after the tournament. He was also not particularly impressive in his 10 games with the St. John's IceCaps in the AHL playoffs, although some of that can be attributed to a more limited role. Scheifele has improved his scoring touch, which nicely complements his already fantastic passing skills. He has good vision and on-ice awareness and though he does not use his size to be a bruiser, it should help him endure the punishment of the pro game. Whether he is able to develop into a consistent scorer at the pro level is the primary reason for Scheifele's slide in the rankings."

To read more, check out their website at hockeysfuture.com .

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 11, 2012 C2

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