Flames' reasons for signing Olli Jokinen do and don't make sense

ollijokinen3.jpgThe Flames foray into free agency this year is one that has mostly driven Flames fans insane. The signing of Olli Jokinen has been the focus of most of the attention of fans not only in Calgary but also around the league. The two sides parted ways on such poor terms before thanks to Jokinen being thoroughly unproductive (75 GP, 19 G, 31 A over two seasons) and with the Flames losing a first round pick to the Coyotes in the process when they traded him away.

So what would motivate Darryl Sutter to invoke public outcry and sign back the one time Flames pariah for failure? It turns out, it’s got a bit more to do with the health of Daymond Langkow according to the Calgary Herald.

Centre Daymond Langkow is struggling to recover from a season-ending neck injury suffered in the spring. His status for next season is unknown.

“It’s still an issue,” said the Calgary Flames general manager. “We’re 100 days post-injury. We thought he would be further along that he is, and he’s still not.

“We’re still 100 days away (from the start of the season), but it is a concern.”

Back on March 21, medics wheeled Langkow off the ice in Minnesota via stretcher after taking an Ian White slap shot off the base of the neck. From the impact of the blast, Langkow suffered what Sutter calls a “slight” fracture of the vertebrae at the base of the neck.

“To be quite honest, it ties big into Olli too.”

This year’s free agency class at center wasn’t exactly teeming over with stellar talent and another center the Flames could’ve been looking at was yet another former Flame in Matthew Lombardi (he signed with Nashville yesterday). The Flames, however, made their move first and it was to Jokinen. What is Sutter’s justification on Jokinen? It’s interesting to say the least.

“We felt in discussing it with the players — Jarome and Olli and Alex — that’s what they felt they missed was a playmaker with them,” Sutter said. “Certainly Tanguay is capable of that.”

As for the reaction to the Jokinen signing?

“Actually, it’s been really, really positive,” Sutter said.

From whom?

“From the people who are important.”

The season-ticket holders?

“Including them,” Sutter said. “Especially them.”

Signs you know you’ve made a questionable signing: When you’re instantly defensive when being asked questions as to why you made it in the first place. That said, ending up on Darryl Sutter’s bad side can’t be all that difficult as he always looks to be so pleasant.

Making Alex Tanguay the linchpin that will supposedly make the the line with Jokinen and Iginla work is an intriguing call on its own. Tanguay’s 09-10 season in Tampa was less than stellar (80 GP, 10 G, 27 A) while playing alongside Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos. Banking on Tanguay to be the missing link to provide success for both Jokinen and Iginla is almost the definition of “putting all your eggs in one basket.” Whether Tanguay can be the setup man or not may determine whether or not Darryl Sutter gets to keep his job in the front office.

Scroll Down For:

    Devils unveil ‘The Salute’ statue in honor of Martin Brodeur

    2816marty4
    New Jersey Devils
    Leave a comment

    The New Jersey Devils on Monday unveiled ‘The Salute’ — a statue paying homage to one of the greatest goalies in NHL history, Martin Brodeur, who will have his No. 30 uniform retired Tuesday at Prudential Center.

    “Looking at the pictures of my career and some of the events that meant a lot to me, I always saluted the fans,” Brodeur, a three-time Stanley Cup winner with the Devils, told the Fire and Ice blog.

    “That picture, at different times, in different jerseys, actually, like with Team Canada, it all came to that same pose.”

    More on the statue from the Devils:

    The 900-pound bronze statue was created by renowned sculpture and artist Jon Krawczyk, who worked with Brodeur on the design. Krawczyk, a Boonton Township, N.J. native and lifelong Devils fan, who also created the hockey statue on Championship Plaza outside of Prudential Center, personally drove “The Salute” from his Malibu, Cali. studio to the arena late last week.

    Video: Panthers furious after Abdelkader ‘cheap shot’ hit on Barkov

    15 Comments

    The Florida Panthers are fuming after their skilled 20-year-old forward Aleksander Barkov left Monday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings following a hit from Justin Abdelkader.

    Abdelkader caught Barkov with a hard hit near the goal line as the Panthers player tried to move the puck up ice early in the second period.

    The only call on the play was to Panthers’ blue liner Alex Petrovic for the retaliatory cross check on Abdelkader. Barkov left the game and didn’t return with an upper-body injury.

    Members of the Panthers irate with the hit, and the fact there was no call.

    “It was a cheap hit, I don’t know how the ref didn’t call it,” Nick Bjugstad told the Miami Herald. “It was frustrating, the whole bench felt that way. We’re not happy with it. It turned the game around. Barkov has tough shoes to fill. It looked pretty serious. We’ll see how the league handles it and I think they will. I just don’t know how it wasn’t handled on the ice.”

    “You hate to lose your top player, but that’s part of the game,” added Panthers’ head coach Gerard Gallant.

    “We’re disappointed to lose him. I thought it was a cheap shot but the referees didn’t see it that way and explained to me it was a clean check. It’s tough. It happens quick and we get to see the replay. I think it’ll be looked at. [Abdelkader] left his feet a little and got him in the jaw.”

    The Panthers gave up three goals in the third period in a 3-0 loss to the Red Wings.

    Penguins thump the Ducks as Crosby’s hot streak continues

    Pittsburgh Penguins v New York Rangers - Game Three
    Getty Images
    Leave a comment

    In a meeting between two clubs enjoying hot streaks and their own subsequent climbs through the standings, the Pittsburgh Penguins bested the Anaheim Ducks courtesy another dominant Sidney Crosby performance on Monday.

    After that slow start, Crosby has put together a growing number of dominant performances of late.

    The latest, a four-point night, helped the Penguins to a 6-2 final over the Ducks, stopping Anaheim’s winning streak at six games.

    — He extended his scoring streak to a career best seven games, and did so with two beauty goals versus the Ducks.

    — From Dec. 18 to Feb. 8, he’s appeared in 21 games. In that span, he’s recorded 34 points.

    — Crosby is now into the top five among NHL players in points, with 53 in 51 games this season.

    He wasn’t the only Pittsburgh player to have a big night. Keep in mind, Evgeni Malkin wasn’t even in the lineup due to a lower-body injury.

    Ten different Penguins players recorded points. In addition to Crosby, Chris Kunitz and Kris Letang had multi-point efforts, and four players — Kunitz, Crosby, Olli Maatta and Patric Hornqvist — were plus-four.

    The Penguins now move into third in the Metropolitan Division, while the New York Islanders slip into the first Wild Card spot in the East. Pittsburgh’s lead over the Islanders, however, is only one point.

    The Islanders also have a game in hand.

    Panthers’ Barkov (upper-body injury) leaves game versus Red Wings

    Florida Panthers v New Jersey Devils
    Getty Images
    2 Comments

    The Florida Panthers will be without Aleksander Barkov for the remainder of their game versus the Detroit Red Wings on Monday.

    As per multiple reports, Barkov will not return due to an upper-body injury suffered after a hit from Justin Abdelkader early in the second period.

    Abdelkader wasn’t given a penalty on the play. Barkov didn’t play another shift after that hit.

    In 42 games this season, the 20-year-old Barkov has 16 goals and 35 points.