Jokinen ‘wanted to start playing tomorrow’ after talk with Laviolette

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When the Nashville Predators signed Olli Jokinen to a one-year contract, it gave the Preds an offensive player up the middle the team was sorely lacking.

While the Preds aren’t exactly a team known for its goal scoring, Jokinen said there was one major factor that led him to sign there: New head coach Peter Laviolette. As Joshua Cooper of The Tennessean shares, that was all the motivation the 35-year-old Finn needed.

“Obviously with the excitement and the passion about the game and ideas of how he was going to coach this team, that was one of the biggest reasons I decided to come here,” Jokinen said. “Speaking with him, I got excited. I wanted to start playing tomorrow.”

Last season with the Winnipeg Jets, Jokinen had 18 goals and 43 points. If you put those numbers on last season’s Predators team, he would’ve been fifth on the squad in goals and points.

With the addition of James Neal to the team, the Preds are in need of someone to get him the puck to score goals. Jokinen will have competition to do that with Mike Fisher and Craig Smith, but he has an established career of setting other players up. Just ask Jarome Iginla from his days in Calgary.

Mixing in Laviolette’s brand of hockey could help all parties involved to boost their numbers. Having to do it in an obscenely loaded Central Division won’t make it easy.