Olli Jokinen, One of the Best Finnish Players Ever

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Forward Olli Jokinen signed an honourary contract with the Florida Panthers on March 7th, 2017; before officially announcing his retirement from the NHL.

In any league, when an athlete retires a common question that gets asked is ‘what is their legacy?’ Now retired at age 38, Jokinen’s legacy should place him among the best Finnish players to ever lace them up.

Olli Jokinen, One of the Best Finnish Players Ever

Jokinen was selected third overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1997 NHL Draft. Early on in his career, he did not get the opportunity to be a star player; to be the number one guy on his team. It wasn’t until he was traded to the Panthers, that Jokinen began to show off his abilities. With Panthers superstar Pavel Bure being sent to the New York Rangers, there was an opportunity. Jokinen seized that opportunity and became the face of the franchise.

From 2002 to 2008 the Kuopio, Finland native scored 173 goals, which ranked seventh in the league during that span. He had more goals than Daniel Alfredsson, Martin St. Louis, Mats Sundin and Markus Naslund – four household names in hockey. Further, during that time he had the eighth most power play goals in the league. Jokinen averaged 0.91 points per game as well.

Jokinen holds Florida’s all-time record in points (419), goals (188), game-winning goals (36), overtime goals (10), power-play points (153) and shots (1,837). But in addition to being able to find the back of the net, he was a true leader for the Panthers, captaining the franchise from 2003 to 2008. In that time he was one of the only bright spots for a struggling Panthers team, as the franchise did not qualify for the postseason while Jokinen was there.

In his 17-year career, Jokinen dressed for the Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders, Phoenix Coyotes, Calgary Flames, New York Rangers, Winnipeg Jets, Nashville Predators, Toronto Maples and St. Louis Blues. He accumulated 321 goals, 429 assist for 750 points in 1,231 career games.

International Success

The one knock on Jokinen is that he only made the playoffs once in his career back in 2009 with the Calgary Flames. However, many of his greatest successes came at the international stage, with various medals won with team Finland.

The forward won the gold medal at the 1998 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, and is a four-time Olympian, which includes a silver medal in 2006 and bronze medals in 2010 and 2014. In addition, Jokinen’s medal case includes two silvers and three bronzes at the World Championships.

Comparisons To Other Finnish Born Players

In comparison to other Finnish born players who have participated in the NHL, he ranks third in goals and fourth in total points first in both categories is Teemu Selanne. But of course, stats do not tell the whole story. One cannot underestimate the amount of influence Jokinen may have had on the following and now surging generation of Finnish players. Players such as Aleksander Barkov, Mikael Granlund and Patrik Laine.

Jokinen ended his career down south in the spot where it truly began. “My heart has always been with the Panthers organization and now I feel like my career has come full circle,” Jokinen explained to the Panthers’ website. “I am extremely grateful that I had the chance to play hockey in South Florida and help the sport grow.”

Jokinen may not have ever been the best player in the league, or even in the conversation, but he managed to consistently make an impact wherever he played. Based on the accolades Jokinen racked up throughout his hockey career, his legacy should stand as one of the best Finnish hockey players ever.

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