Four months after he was shipped out of town by the Calgary Flames, Olli Jokinen was waiting to see what interest there might be in his services around the NHL. It didn't work out for Jokinen with the New York Rangers, where the Flames traded him in a disastrous deal for Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins; and it hadn't worked all that well in his previous stop with the Phoenix Coyotes as well.
So when the phone rang, and it was Flames' general manager Darryl Sutter on the line, armed with a peace pipe and a two-year contract worth $6 million altogether, Jokinen didn't know what to say - other than presumably, 'get me a pen.'
Jokinen signed on the dotted line - and even if his return to the Flames on the opening day of the NHL free agency season wasn't the biggest move, it clearly won out as the most unexpected.
Even Jokinen admitted on a conference call, if someone had told him he would be coming back to Calgary so soon, he would have said, 'you're out of your mind."
Jokinen said he would try to be the player he was in his first 10 games in Calgary, when he was doing what he did best - shooting the puck and scoring goals.
"That's the way I should play every single night," said Jokinen. "There was a lot of pressure and maybe I wasn't ready to handle that.
"My mind is pretty clear right now. The price tag is not as heavy as last time. Hopefully - no, not hopefully - I know things are going to work out."
Jokinen went on to say that 2009-01 was "overall, a tough year, I just have to get back to being physical and being a hard guy to play against. I have to use my size a little more and be a little more selfish, meaning, shooting the puck and doing things like that more.
"I think last year, I got caught a little trying to be a nice guy, pleasing my teammates, passing the puck a lot, looking for other guys to score more ... Last year was a step back, but there are so many positives to coming back, I'm just thrilled."
Jokinen and Alex Tanguay, another ex-Flame whose career fallen on hard times since his departure from Calgary, joined the team as unrestricted free agents Thursday, Tanguay signing a one-year, $1.75 million contract.
Tanguay had asked the Flames to trade him two years ago. Why, two years later, did Tanguay have them on the top of his off-season shopping list, as his destination of choice?
"My last year in Calgary, I was playing for Mike (Keenan, the team's coach) and I was making a lot of money," explained Tanguay. "I felt the role Mr. Keenan wanted me to play didn't give me an opportunity to justify my money. I asked Darryl if he would be kind enough to trade me.
"It was never about Calgary. It was never about the team. It was mostly just a situation where I was making that kind of money and used more in a penalty-killing role and not as much in an offensive role."
Tanguay is just 30, but over the past four years, saw his production slip from 81 to 58 to 41 to 37 points.
He played for the Tampa Bay Lightning last year, but couldn't develop any chemistry with Vincent Lecavalier; and ended up averaging under 16 minutes of ice time per night. Only three of his 10 goals came with the man advantage.
Tanguay spoke with Iginla Thursday morning and said the two have stayed in touch ever since his departure: "Jarome was very excited and so am I."
Even though Calgary finished with just 204 goals last season, lowest total in the conference, Tanguay thought that he could help out in a playmaking role.
"There are a lot of great players on this team and Jarome is certainly at the top of the class," said Tanguay. "But I enjoyed playing with Daymond Langkow when I was in Calgary. He's a very good centreman, very underrated.
"Effectively, they've got more potential than people think. I'm just hoping to do my part ... and let people forget about what happened to me last year.
"Last year was a difficult year for me."Report Typo/Error