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"Throughout the year, the message was pretty clear from what [Martin] was saying. What can I say? My time is up now with this franchise and it's time to move on. Other people will have to replace me. I just want to move on. I don't really want to look back.

"I was lucky enough to stay here for eight years -- that's a long time. I would have liked to stay, but as a player, too, how long can you take it? Since Mike [Keenan] left -- I think he was the guy who really wanted me here -- so when he was gone, at that time I thought, "It's just a matter of time before I'll have to leave." - Olli Jokinen, Sun-Sentinel.com.

Try as I may, I had trouble finding anyone at the draft that was all that supportive of the Florida Panthers' trade of center Olli Jokinen to the Phoenix Coyotes. Well, outside of Panthers GM Jacques Martin, of course. I asked him if the trade -- defensemen Keith Ballard and Nick Boynton and a second round pick (49th overall) to Florida for the talented pivot -- was the best one on the table for Jokinen's services. "I think that was the best package, for sure. I think what this package did was really address our needs on defense," he said.

You'll notice in the photo that Jokinen is wearing a "C" on his sweater. But Martin didn't exactly praise his leadership abilities during his chat with the media this evening, indicated that Jokinen may thrive in Phoenix because there are others to shoulder the load. "Their leadership is already in place, with people like Shane Doan and Ed Jovanovski. Their leadership is already established, so for him it's a good opportunity. He's going to have some good young players to play with."

The Minnesota Wild were hot for Jokinen, offering up winger Pierre-Marc Bouchard late in the process. But Martin chose the deal with Phoenix, even if it's a financial wash for the Panthers. And according to David Neal of the Miami Herald, he chose poorly:

Panthers general manager Jacques Martin saw that the Panthers had to get better on defense. Too often, they get the puck moving out of the defensive zone at the staccato pace of parents getting out of the house with a 3-year-old in tow. That allows opposing forechecks to roll in and abort the Panthers' offense at conception while generating their own attack. All that starts with a team's blue liners.

Unfortunately, it is not as if the Panthers get a massive upgrade. Boynton, once a potentially good defensemen, now lays on the second-pair plateau and has missed significant time in two of the past three seasons because of injury. Ballard is 25, young for a defenseman, yet don't expect him to turn into Scott Niedermayer.

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