Look, I’m not going to try to put any lipstick on this pig. Olli Jokinen’s tenure in Calgary was a complete failure, full stop. His acquisition and subsequent trade bookended a period that one might hope had cured Darryl Sutter from making any rash moves.
With that in mind, his relatively inexpensive acquisition of Alex Tanguay earlier this afternoon made a bit of sense, especially since his initial move away from Calgary was driven by factors other than his actual performance.
This move, however, really defies description. So, is there any reason to hope? After the jump, I’ll try to make some sense of it all.
I’d be the first person to say that I was pretty uncomfortable with Mikael Backlund as a stand-alone 3C, since he needed some very sheltered minutes to compete at the NHL level last year. Matt Stajan seems like a tweener 2/3C, and Daymond Langkow is still very useful, but he’s no kid and is coming off a fairly major neck injury.
So I do understand that the team might have felt that their center ice position was looked a bit thin. I don’t worship the cult of the "first-line center" as ardently as some, but the better teams in the conference (DET and CHI in particular) are three deep in the middle with some nice players.
My question would be, "Is there any evidence that Olli Jokinen any kind of solution to that problem?" The answer is a very slight chance of "maybe", but with a ton of qualifiers, none of which I’d expect the Flames to adhere to. First, Olli Jokinen has exactly zero historical evidence in his favour suggesting he can play against good players.
That means that if the club expects success from the return of the Wild Card, he has to play against soft competition, with a nice heaping of PP work. If the Flames have the wit to give him Hagman/GlenX and Moss for linemates versus third liners, he might manage to out-shoot and out-score. Olli Jokinen did have some poor shooting luck in terms of percentages, but his possession numbers were shabby enough versus top players to convince me that he wasn’t merely unlucky.
Second, for the love of (insert the deity of your choice), keep him away from Jarome Iginla. Those two were the Toxic Twins last year, and I don’t see how a brief interregnum will have solved their utter inability to make a go of matters.
I don’t doubt that Alex Tanguay, if healthy, would be the kind of nice passer that might help both of them, but if that line runs PvP next year, their shifts will replace staged fights as my cue to head for the fridge or the can, because I won’t want to watch that crap. I’m not the type to rubber-neck at car crashes, y’know? My concern is that Sutter and Sutter won’t be able to resist.
I’m not going to belabor this much more. Olli Jokinen isn’t the anti-christ, and as a small point in his favour, I do remember his surprisingly poignant presser the night he was traded where he took responsibility for the disappointing turn of events.
It was actually difficult to listen to, especially given that he and Brandon Prust clearly played that game under duress, since they were obviously headed to New York before the game started. So I try not to be too harsh toward a player that was a poor fit under the circumstances.
The guy who pulled the trigger? Well, I’ll have a few words to say about him soon enough, if the authorities don’t detain him for his own safety first. I think the mood might be a bit foul around Calgary for the near term, at least.