If someone had told Olli Jokinen on the night of Jan. 31 that he'd shortly be a member of the Calgary Flames again, his response would have been simple.
"I'd probably say, 'You're out of your mind,'" Jokinen told reporters Thursday night, just hours after agreeing to a second stint in Calgary, which signed the 6-foot-3 center to a two-year, $6 million deal. "I've seen four teams in the last three years. It's always tough when you get traded, but on the other hand, you keep your eyes open and you see a lot of places. For me, it was a real easy decision to come back to Calgary. The way they treat players over there and the way things are run over there, there's no better place."
Jokinen, 31, had 15 goals and 35 assists last season between the Flames and Blueshirts. He was dealt to the Rangers on Jan. 31, along with forward Brandon Prust, for Christopher Higgins and Ales Kotalik. Jokinen had 15 points (4 goals, 11 assists) in 26 games for the Rangers, but will be mostly remembered in New York for his missed shootout attempt against Philadelphia Flyers goalie Brian Boucher on the final day of the regular season. The loss to the Flyers prevented New York from qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"Anytime you get traded, your first reaction is you're upset, because you want to be part of something," Jokinen said. "Of course, I was disappointed and upset when I got traded. For me, there's no better place to play than Calgary. I was a little surprised to get a call from Darryl today, but I heard what he had to say. There really wasn't any other options for me. I wanted to come back. It's a great place to play."
Jokinen, who also helped Finland win a bronze medal at the Olympics last February, was the second forward to sign a deal with the Flames on the opening day of free agency. Alex Tanguay, who played for Calgary from 2006-08, agreed to a one-year deal to rejoin the Flames. Tanguay had 10 goals and 27 assists for the Tampa Bay Lightning last season.
"When I spoke with Olli today, he was thrilled at the thought of returning to Calgary," Flames GM Darryl Sutter said in a statement. "He and his family enjoyed their time here. I believe that Olli and Alex complement each other, and it was very important for us to be involved in signing both of these quality players. This really ties our center ice position together nicely. Adding Olli gives us a good mix at center ice with (Matt) Stajan, (Daymond) Langkow and (Mikael) Backlund."
Armed with a second opportunity to skate alongside Flames captain Jarome Iginla, Jokinen is primed to bounce back from a rough 2009-10 season. Not only does he plan on using his size to his advantage, but the 215-pounder also realizes he needs to shoot more. Jokinen has reached the 30-goal plateau three times in his career, last with the Florida Panthers in 2007-08.
"I definitely want to bounce back and play better than last year," Jokinen said. "Last year was kind of tough overall. I've just got to get back to being physical and being a hard guy to play against. I'm thrilled to come back. I know things are going to work out."
Overall, Jokinen has appeared in 881 NHL games with the Kings, Islanders, Panthers, Coyotes, Flames and Rangers. He has 252 career goals and 316 assists. He was selected in the first round (No. 3) by Los Angeles at the 1997 Entry Draft.
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