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Jokinen pressing forward

by David Alter / Toronto Maple Leafs

Not one to look back, Olli Jokinen is always looking forward.

With 1220 NHL games and 16 seasons under his belt, Jokinen doesn’t dwell on the fact that he’s missed out on hockey’s ultimate prize.

Jokinen has played in just six playoff games, a first-round series, as a member of the Calgary Flames

“Those were some of the best days of my life,” Jokinen recalled.

Jokinen had a prominent role with the Flames, including one game where he scored twice for one of Calgary’s two victories in the series.

He hasn’t returned since, but a lot of that has been bad luck. He regrets nothing.

“I looked at Nashville when I signed and I see I picked correctly,” Jokinen remarked. “All you can do is look forward.”

In three games with the Maple Leafs, Jokinen has been centring a line with Leo Komarov and David Clarkson. The trade deadline is approaching and the search for positivity is tough, given what has been an immensely difficult 2015.

Still, a win against the Jets on Saturday meant, the Leafs have been able to at least bask in a win for a considerable amount of time.

“I don’t know where the days went for us but it seems like – well I know we have the most back-to-back (games) in the entire league and it didn’t seem like we ever had a stretch like this where you have a couple of days to practice in a row,” James van Riemsdyk said following Tuesday’s practice. “You kind of cement some things as far as what we’re trying to so it’s good to have that.”

The addition of Jokinen has helped bring new prospective to the Maple Leafs. His impact has been noticed on some of the younger talent.

“You can tell since the first game he was here, there’s a sense of calm he provides to a younger group,” van Riemsdyk said. “For guys who are kind of breaking in, it’s good to have a guy like that on our team who can just wade through all the extra nonsense playing in a market like this.”

Jokinen has immediately found himself as a veteran among a group of forwards trying to find their way, and he sees a lot in the talent level in Toronto, particularly in van Riemsdyk.

“He’s got one of the best releases in the league, both he and Phil (Kessel) can shoot the puck,” adds Jokinen. “He puts the work in and he wants to get better, he’ll be one of those guys who will be a 40-goal scorer in this league.”

The Leafs will have another day of practice on Wednesday to get in some fine tuning, and while there doesn’t appear to be much to play for in the standings, the Leafs’ eldest and most seasoned forward believes otherwise.

“With a market like this, there’s going to be a good team here next year. They are probably going to make changes which is part of the game,” Jokinen said. “At the same time, as a player you can’t throw these last 20 games away. Any player, you have to push yourself to be better every day and that way you have a better feeling going into the summer. You can’t throw in the towel. Now is the time to get better every day and move forward.”

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