Everything the Flames need to know about Olli Jokinen can be summed up in what has happened the past two weeks.
The deadweight centre, having scored all of two goals in his first 17 games of the season (which sounds an awful lot like what he did for long stretches last season), delivers a mindless cross-check to the head in Phoenix and gets suspended for three games.
In his absence, the Flames most important player – Jarome Iginla, for whom Olli was brought in as a skilled first-line centre in the first place -breaks out of his own season-long slump in a huge way, scoring six goals in three games.
Jokinen comes off suspension. Coach Brent Sutter re-installs him on a line with Iginla. Over the next three games, they both resume their slumps, with neither of them scoring a goal.
When is Sutter going to get it?
Jokinen has been a disaster in every way, but especially when playing with Iginla. Everyone in the NHL can see they have worse than no chemistry together – Jokinen actually makes Iginla WORSE, by taking up spots on the ice where the much, much better Iginla should be, and shooting pucks that the much, much more skilled Iginla should be shooting.
Iginla’s hardly unique, though. Pretty much anyone playing with Jokinen is poisoned by this guy. He’s become the Bad Luck Schleprock of professional hockey – a dark cloud follows him around and bad things happen to anyone who gets too near him.
For the good of the team, Jokinen must go. He’s a distraction, an alabtross, a reminder of everything the team has tried to do that has backfired in the past two years.
I don’t care what they do with him. Send him to the press box. Demote him to the minors. Loan him to the Russian League. Just get him off the ice – so that Iginla and the Flames can finally get back to work.