One of the teams we’re always keeping a curious eye on this season is Calgary. Not because we’re big fans of Jarome Iginla or Miikka Kiprusoff, but because of the re-acquisitions of Alex Tanguay and Olli Jokinen. You may have heard that Flames fans weren’t exactly beaming over Flames GM Darryl Sutter bringing back a couple of players who disappointed in their first tour of duty in Calgary and right now, it appears that one of them is getting a lesson taught to them early on in the season.
Vicki Hall of The Calgary Herald talks about Flames coach Brent Sutter benching Olli Jokinen in the third period of the Flames 4-2 loss to Detroit last night and tries to figure out just what is going on with the Finnish enigma.
“He’s considered to be a top player,” Sutter said. “We need him to be that for us. But again, it’s all our top players. We need them to bring their game every night for us and rise to the occasion. That’s something to be proud of. That’s something to know you’re looked at that way.”
Olli Jokinen 2.0 in Calgary has one assist in six games at his new salary of US $3 million.
So what exactly is Jokinen at this point in his career?
“Well, I don’t want to get into what he is,” Sutter said. “He’s like other guys inside that room who we need the performance to rise. The bar has to be higher. It’s a situation again, where we don’t want anyone to be average in there. Average is what .500 hockey is.”
Jokinen’s numbers are, to say the least, awful. He’s lost his spot on the top line with Iginla and Tanguay to Matthew Stajan and his turnover last night lead to Johan Franzen’s eventual game-deciding goal. Now, Jokinen runs on the second line with reclamation project Brendan Morrison and Niklas Hagman.
At the least, Brent Sutter is teaming Jokinen up with the team’s leading scorer at the moment in Morrison, but the Flames on the whole are hurting for offense scoring just 11 goals so far this year, good for last in the NHL. Jokinen was brought in to try and rekindle the offense around Iginla and give him someone he’s at least got some chemistry with, but through six games it hasn’t happened. It’s too early to chalk the off-season up as a total failure for the Flames, but limping out of the gate like this while Miikka Kiprusoff does everything possible to keep them in the game is not what they want to do all year long.