Monday, March 9, 2009

Olli sure could use a friend right now...

Defending the defenceless?


Sounds like a noble cause, doesn't it? Until you realize that I mean that he can't play defence as opposed to can't defend himself...

I've spent a fair bit of my time all over the Flames blogosphere lately trying to defend the Olli Jokinen trade from deadline day (which the rest of the NHL deemed a great pickup for the Flames, but then again, they don't know Lombardi like we do). I've been arguing that this could be a great addition for Calgary, but he needs one big thing to happen first...

Calgary's walking (skating?) wounded need to return from the injured reserve to bolster a lineup that is remarkably weakened right now, what with having no second line whatsoever. When Langkow returns to the Flames lineup, and hopefully Bourque sooner than later (Bertuzzi can take his time), I have a feeling that the Flames will see a bit of a resurgence in scoring. When the LA Kings brought in Wayne Gretzky, it marked a huge up shoot in points for Bernie Nicholls, who got shifted back to the second line and had a record year of 70 goals and 80 assists, up from only 78 points the season before (and he subsequently got traded to the Rangers halfway through the next season). Now, I'm definitely not saying that Jokinen is anywhere near the talent level of Gretzky, but I do think he is closer than Lombardi (nor do I think Langkow is as good as Hollywood Bernie, nor would he wear a hot pink suit). But I have always been of the opinion that having a second solid scoring line will do wonders when it comes to forcing opposing teams to pick one line to defend over the other...

One complaint about Jokinen that was heard often on trade deadline day was his reputation as a clubhouse cancer, especially in regards to how he deals with the younger players, but I just don't think he had a solid example to learn from. I tried a few times to demonstrate that he hadn't had a solid leadership example to follow during the developing stages of his career (admittedly sometimes more effectively than others), and now that he is in an organization that seems to be hemorrhaging leaders with Iginla, Regehr, and Conroy to an extent, he won't be looked upon for that role. When he was with the Panthers, he didn't really have anyone and I don't think he knew what he had to do when he was thrust into the spotlight there...

Sure Jokinen will never be the own-zone presence that Lombardi was, but we have other guys on their way up that can take over that role (I'm looking at Boyd and Nystrom here). I don't see anyone in our immediate pipeline that can add the scoring touch that Jokinen has always exhibited. And I don't consider Backlund on the same level yet...

And you know he has to be happy to be playing somewhere that hockey is very much a part of everyday life (at least, he's happy right now)...

The Flames played horrible in the last couple of games on the road, but that can't be attributed solely to Jokinen. Let's see what he can do against the Devils in Jersey tomorrow night against a good (great?) goaltender and a team that plays solid defence. Not to mention a real playoff contender...

For now I'm still trying to reserve a little judgement...

3 comments:

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x