Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun reports an interesting development between the Flames and center Olli Jokinen.
According to a source “inside the dressing room”, there are questions being raised about comments from Jokinen’s agent, Ian Pulver — namely, that Jokinen played the final three weeks of the regular season with a serious injury.
“He has played with some significant mid-body injuries to try doing the best he could for the team,” Pulver stated. “Olli is somewhat of an iron man. He hasn’t missed a game and he should be applauded.”
Yet, according to Francis…
A source inside the dressing room, familiar with Jokinen’s ailment, says an MRI showed a mild abdominal strain.
“It’s not something that hindered his play,” said the source.
“Guys play through stuff far worse than that this time of year. Talk that it’s much worse is just an excuse.”
After a stellar middle portion of the season — Jokinen had 37 points in 40 games from December through February — the 33-year-old Finn struggled in March, which coincided with the collapse of Calgary’s playoff push. Jokinen is minus-14 in his last 10 games, scoring just two goals with zero assists, while the club lost eight times and missed the postseason for the third consecutive year.
It should be noted that Jokinen hasn’t used injury as an excuse for his play. He’s also refused to answer questions about it.
But the late-season collapse, combined with this latest development, has cast doubt on whether Calgary will bring him back. An impending UFA, Jokinen has had a great year statistically (23G-38A-61PTS) and at times has been called the Flames’ best player…but he’s likely to want a raise from his last deal (which paid $3 million annually) and could get it on the open market, given the lack of quality centers available.
Your move, Jay Feaster.