Panthers center Olli Jokinen sat down with floridapanthers.com for an exclusive online chat. Here's what the captain had to say about next season, what he loves about living in South Florida, and the significance behind his newest tattoo:
First question is from Lennart Hesse. He wants to know who has influenced you the most in your career?
Jokinen: “My dad, Matti. He used to play hockey and I grew up watching him. Then he was coaching me until I was 15. And I still talk to him every day during the year.”
Q: From Jose Rocha. What inspired you to get the tattoo (of the Goddess of Victory) on your right forearm? Also, will you ever grow the blonde hair back?
Jokinen: “I love tattoos. I have five tattoos. The right arm was a little empty so I needed something there. Hopefully, the tattoo will help us get into the playoffs. Plus, my wife is Greek. As for the hair? No. Actually, my kids want me to grow the hair but I’ll keep what I have now.”
Q: From Richard. He believes the hooking calls are getting to be a joke. And he wonders if you see inconsistencies in the officiating?
Jokinen: “You see it but it’s part of the game. We’re all human and everyone makes mistakes. Overall, the new rule, the stick goes over the waist line you get the penalty. Even in the playoffs they’ve been calling those and I think it’s a good sign. It’s a good rule because there’s more speed and a lot more offense. You have more freedom and more room on the ice.”
Q: From Thomas Lunsford. How do you continue to play so well injured? Is it a good tape job and medicine or pure hockey-player grit?
Jokinen: “Probably a good tape job (laughs). I think a lot has to do with your (mentality). Depends on how you take it. Some guys are able to handle it and some guys are not. There’s nobody but yourself where the limits are for the pain.”
Q: From Ana Lopez. As the article on FloridaPanther.com says the team and yourself feel very confident the Panthers will do well next year. Why do you and the team feel so optimistic?
Jokinen: “I’ve been here for six years and I really think we’ve been going in the right direction year after year. Our young players are better and I’m confident our management will make the right moves and bring some bright people over here. If everybody gets better over the summer and we make a few changes here and there, we have a chance to go the playoffs and go far. That’s our only goal.”
Q: From Matt Davis. The month of November over the past two seasons has had the most impact on keeping the Panthers out of the playoffs. What do you do as captain to survive November come the new season?
Jokinen: “Couple years ago, after the lockout, with all the things that happened with the hurricane, we could have used that as an excuse. Last year it was more mental. The media brought that question up. You have a couple losses and then it sticks in your mind. Right now we have to focus on the first game and, when that’s over, you focus on the second game. You have to be prepared to work every day. We can’t change the past. The main focus is looking ahead.”
Q: From Bryan Weinberg. Who do you want to win the Stanley Cup?
Jokinen: “Anaheim. My friend plays over there, Teemu (Selanne). Hopefully, he wins.
Q: From Billy Marshall. What’s the most exciting thing to happen to you in your hockey career?
Jokinen: “Probably winning the World Juniors in 1998. That was a good experience to be on a winning team. I have a lot of good experience in international competitions; being part of two Olympics, getting an Olympic medal. Those are always fun. There’s always something exciting happening around hockey. Hopefully, there’s big prizes coming up in next year’s Stanley Cup.
Q: From Michael Sorensen. Who would you feel more comfortable with in goal – Alex Auld, Ed Belfour, Craig Anderson? He also wants to know if a better option is to sign a free agent.
Jokinen: “I think all these goalies who are playing in the NHL or minor leagues are world-class athletes. Any of those goalies can carry the team on a good day. On the other hand, you don’t want to think one guy is that important. It’s a team game. You win as a team and lose as a team. There’s going to be nights the goalie will steal us a game but there’s going to be nights we have to bail out the goalie.”
Q: From Bill Curtin. The Panthers had a much better record at home last year than on the road. What does the team have to do to keep that same intensity on the road?
Jokinen: “I think it’s mental preparation. The main focus has to be on the upcoming game and, overall, we want to be a hard-working team next year. It really shouldn’t matter whether we play home or on the road. If we can be one of the hardest working teams in the league, most of the nights we’ll end up getting the result we want.”
Q: From Robert Sigel. What do you think of the product the NHL is offering now with the lack of contact? Can you retain fans?
Jokinen: “I think so. Obviously, the fighting has gone down. You don’t want to take that part totally away. But I think it’s a lot more entertaining right now with the speed and all the young talent. You have a guy like (Sidney) Crosby who is going to be the face of the NHL for the next 20 years. Hockey is still a physical sport and you won’t take that away. I think the league is trying to take away the cheap shots and hitting the head. There’s no need for that part in the NHL. With the speed and excitement in every game, there’s no reasons fans wouldn’t like it. There’s still enough hitting and there’s more goals than a few years ago. Obviously, there’s less fighting and a lot of the fans want to see that. But with the new rule changes it’s going in a little different direction and I think, overall, it’s good for the NHL.”
Q : From Kevin Marema. What is the best thing about living in South Florida
? Jokinen: I really enjoy the weather. It is great to be able to go to the rink in a t-shirt and shorts in the morning. My family really enjoys it here, it is home for us.
Q: from Marcus Soderlund. Under Mike Keenan, you became the Captain of Florida Panthers. If it was offered to you, would you also accept becoming Captain of Team Finland during Olympic competition, or would that be a very different situation?
Jokinen: Well Saku Koivo has been the captain of the national team since the mid-90’s. I have had the opportunity to be the captain of Team Finland once in the world championships. It was a really big honor. Peltonen served as the captain this year, but in the end it is the coach’s decision.
Q: From Matt & Cindy Smith. What is the "signifigance" of your number, 12? Does it have special meaning?
Jokinen: I was given this number when I was 16 or 17. I was 21 when I started in Los Angles, but 12 was available when I was traded to Florida. I better keep it because I 12 tattoed on my arm.
Q: From Attila Pazmandi. What was your favorite moment from this past season?Jokinen: Probably when Horton scored his 30th
goal. It was a pretty big milestone for him. We also had a couple of memorable nights with Jacques 100th
game and Gratton’s 100th
game.Q: From Geoff Shaughnessy. Thanks for taking time for this. I'm curious as to your opinion of the current NHL schedule. I'd like to see fewer southeast division games and every team at least once. This would mean more travel and time away from family, but I think it would be better for hockey. Go Panthers!Jokinen: I think we play our division teams too much. I would like to see us just play our division opponents four times and I think you should play ever team at least once. However, I don’t how enough power to change the schedule so we will have to live with it now.That concludes our live chat this evening with Panthers captain Olli Jokinen. Stay tuned to floridapanthers.com for more exclusive chats, video and features on the Florida Panthers.