In the aftermath of the Blues' early ouster at the hands of the Minnesota Wild(s), there have been many things that have frustrated the living shit out of me as to how the postseason wound up. The coaching . . . the leadership . . . the inability to show up for important playoff games . . . the inability to score on Devan Dubnyk (or as I call him now, "Devan Fucking Dubnyk") . . . and on and on and on.
One of the most chief frustrations of the lot for me, though? The misuse—or, rather, the complete lack of use—of one Olli Jokinen, both down the stretch and in the playoffs.
Yes, I understand Jokinen has a total of six playoff games under his belt (all with Calgary back in 2009). But when you look past that, he's exactly the kind of guy a team like the Blues could have used in the playoffs. He's a grizzled veteran of several different NHL stops. When put in a position to succeed, he does exactly that. At his age (he'll be 37 in December), he's likely yearning for one more shot at the Cup before he rides off into the Helsinki sunset.
Which brings me to this . . . above all, he's Finnish. Guess who else on this team is Finnish? Oh, yeah, that Jori Lehtera guy. Oh, hey, Petteri Lindbohm too. A guy like Jokinen could serve as a mentor for these two young up-and-coming Suomi natives. This is especially true for Lehtera, a Finnish center who has about the same build and hands as Jokinen did when Olli was Jori's age.
Plus, if—God forbid—a center from one of the top three lines goes down and you need to replace him with someone . . . who would you rather have standing in his place? Steve Ott, or Olli Jokinen?
And with that, I've made my case as to why Jokinen needs to stick around, if not for just a one-year bargain-basement deal.
Yes, Jokinen's best years are well past him. I know that. You know that. We all know that. But that old, creaky (and kinda big, actually) body of his appeared to have a little bit of fuel left in the tank in the few appearances he did make down the stretch for the Blues.
Now, with Jokinen, there's always the risk of an injury rendering things horribly wrong for him. He did have a short-term upper-body injury that cost him a few games in the Blue Note just after the trade. As mentioned before, he's not young. And that means he likely can't play every day. And that's totally okay.
But for a team unsure about its' leadership heading into the next season, I can think of far worse things you can do to your roster than to retain a spare part like Jokinen for a low price.
Like, perhaps, putting Steve Ott on a line with David Backes and T.J. Oshie again. That gives me hives just fucking THINKING about it again.
Besides, I want the excuse to use this again, and have it be part of MY team. Don't you?
Unfortunately, with Ken Hitchcock and the complete staff coming back, I doubt you'll see a return for Olli to the Blues. But if it were up to me, I'd throw Jokinen a million bucks and let the chips fall where they may. I have no problem having him around.
If they do, though . . . please, Hitch, play him a little bit more this time. Thanks.