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Jokinen traded to Rangers

by Brian Compton
Shortly after playing more than 15 minutes for the Calgary Flames, Olli Jokinen became the newest member of the New York Rangers.

Jokinen, 31, along with forward Brandon Prust, were officially traded to the Blueshirts after Calgary's 3-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday night in exchange for forwards Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins.

Rumors of the trade first surfaced on Sunday night -- just hours after the Flames completed a seven-player blockbuster that sent defenseman Dion Phaneuf to Toronto.

Jokinen has 11 goals and 24 assists in 56 games with the Flames this season. He was acquired by the Flames from Phoenix at last season's trade deadline. Prust, 25, has one goal, four assists and 98 penalty minutes. The pair is expected to make its debut with the Rangers on Tuesday night in Los Angeles.

"It was a long day," Jokinen said after playing his last game with Calgary. "Obviously, I heard everything (Sunday) night. I was kind of surprised. I obviously wasn't expecting to get moved. It's part of the business. I've got to move on. It's tough.

"I settled my family over here. I was hoping I could stay here the rest of my career. That's the way it goes. It goes with the salary. You make $5 million, 11 goals is not going to cut it. It's definitely a slap in the face to get traded. But this is what we do for a living." 

Jokinen spoke with Flames GM Darryl Sutter soon after Monday night's loss and was informed of the deal. It didn't give Jokinen and Prust -- who played less than eight minutes against Philadelphia -- much time to say goodbye to their teammates before each quickly headed home and packed a bag for L.A., where the Rangers are finishing a three-game road trip. 

"Olli was one of my better friends on the team," Flames winger Eric Nystrom said. "It's tough seeing this side of the business, but they're trying to get our team going in the right direction and if these are the moves they have to make, then as players we just have to accept it. We don't have much of a say."

"Obviously, I heard everything (Sunday) night. I was kind of surprised. I obviously wasn't expecting to get moved. It's part of the business. I've got to move on. It's tough." 
-- Olli Jokinen

Prust was drafted in the third round (No. 70) by the Flames in the 2004 Entry Draft. He has two goals, six assists and 231 penalty minutes in 89 NHL games.

"I'm looking forward to the opportunity of going to the big city and playing in Madison Square Garden," Prust said. "I've never played there, so I'm looking forward to it. I'm sad to be leaving all my buddies here and a city that's become my home. But at the same time, I'm moving forward and I'm looking forward to it."

Higgins was acquired by the Rangers last summer in the deal that sent Scott Gomez to the Montreal Canadiens. He had six goals and eight assists in 55 games. Kotalik signed a three-year deal worth $9 million with New York prior to the start of the season. He had just eight goals and 14 assists in 45 contests.

"This business is about winning," said Jokinen, who will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. "We've won once in the last 13, 14 games. We all knew there was going to be changes."

Material from broadcast media was used in this report.

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