Saturday, June 21, 2008

Olli Speaks

Apologies for flooding the board with Panthers stories, but beyond NBA draft rumors and Jason Taylor rumors and the dog days of Summer with the Marlins, there isn't much going on. posted a conversation with former Panther Olli Jokinen. A few things caught my eye. First, Jacques Martin called Olli himself to break the news, and the conversation was, as to be expected, "very short." But what wasn't expected was what Jokinen said about his 8 years in South Florida; "I was lucky enough to stay here for eight years — that's a long time. I would have liked to stay, but as a player, too, how long can you take it? Since Mike [Keenan] left — I think he was the guy who really wanted me here — so when he was gone, at that time I thought, 'It's just a matter of time before I'll have to leave.'"

Mike Keenan left 4 years ago. Now I know the relationship between Jokinen and Martin was strained, but has Olli really been waiting to leave since 2004? At times, he's played like it. He only scored 5 goals after February 10 (the final 24 games) last season, during the heat of the playoff push. Maybe his part in the Zednik accident had something to do with that... maybe it didn't.

When asked about reports that he had asked to be traded: "I was saying if they really want to get rid of me, I'm not going to say, 'I want to stay, I want to stay.... It's his [Martin's] team now so [Martin] can do whatever he wants."

Bitter much? To Olli's defense, the past month has been filled with talks about trading him. I can see how that might get under one's skin. He even had to find out about Panthers' new coach Pete DeBoer through the team's PR guy. If that isn't a bad sign, I don't know what is. But in the big picture, it was his play that packed his bags. A major dropoff in production from the '06-'07 season and a disappointing stretch run gave Martin all the reasons he needed to look elsewhere.

Read the full conversation with the Sun-Sentinal here


ASponge said...

This makes me very sad. Regardless of the -19 statistic and all else, Jokinen made going to the games exciting.

I can't help but feel sorrowful as we big goodbye to a fixture.

FloridaPanthers4ever said...

yup, now the Panthers will lose games 1-0 since they only have Horton to score goals and that usually comes in streaks.