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.

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    Auston Matthews keeps goal streak alive, gives Leafs 1-0 lead in third

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    These are the moments Toronto Maple Leafs fans were dreaming about when they drafted Auston Matthews. At least those bold enough to picture such great things, so soon in his career.

    Speaking of so soon … that’s not how you’d describe a 1-0 goal happening in the third period of a game in this Leafs – Washington Capitals series, but it took that long to break the ice in Game 6.

    It took a very lucky bounce for the puck to find its way to Matthews … but the finish was pure skill. With that, the remarkable rookie now has a goal in four straight games (with an assist thrown in for good measure).

    The lead wouldn’t last long, however, as Marcus Johansson scored to tie it 1-1.

    Things could get awfully nervous for Toronto as they try to force a decisive Game 7 in Washington, but that was a huge goal by Matthews either way.

    Clarke MacArthur, Craig Anderson made Sens win that much more emotional

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    It could have been over for Clarke MacArthur plenty of times during his turbulent NHL career. Scratch that, his turbulent hockey career.

    His team walked away from his salary arbitration award. MacArthur’s seen plenty of people give up on him. And then, when he finally found a home with the Ottawa Senators, concussion issues threatened to end his playing days.

    Yet, there he was on Sunday … drawing a penalty in overtime and then scoring on the ensuing power play to help the Senators advance beyond the Boston Bruins.

    He didn’t deny that he imagined very different possibilities during his darker moments.

    And, as uplifting as his story was – seriously, just watch this interview and try not to root for the guy – it wasn’t the only emotionally charged moment from Game 6.

    Nicholle Anderson was on hand to cheer on Craig Anderson in this one, and the two were able to embrace after the contest:

    As violent and intense as the playoffs can often be, MacArthur and Anderson reminded us of the gentler human side of it all.

    Erik Karlsson played through hairline fractures in foot to help Sens advance

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    Remember when many were keeping an eye on Erik Karlsson after he was seemingly cramping up after logging more than 40 minutes in an OT contest against the Boston Bruins?

    It’s possible he was also dealing with that sort of ailment, but he earned some “hockey tough” kudos on Sunday after word surfaced that the Ottawa Senators defenseman was dealing with hairline fractures in his left heel through the series.

    Sportsnet’s Jason York refers to the issue as “two small fractures” while ESPN’s Joe McDonald went into specifics, noting that Karlsson explains that the injury happened on March 28 (and was why he missed some games late in the season).

    There’s some optimism as the Senators ready for the New York Rangers, at least according to Karlsson.

    Hmm.

    Either way, that’s impressive stuff from the Senators defenseman, and the sort of information that usually only surfaces after a team has been eliminated. We’ll see if he’s hindered by such issues as the playoffs go along.

    Gaudreau, Granlund and Tarasenko: 2017 Lady Byng finalists

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    The NHL officially announced the nominees for the 2017 Lady Byng on Sunday, and they’re a star-studded bunch: Johnny Gaudreau, Mikael Granlund and Vladimir Tarasenko.

    The PHWA determines “the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.”

    (Did Tarasenko help eliminate Granlund’s team in a gentlemanly fashion?)

    For more on the three finalists, click here.