To hear Calgary Flames general manager Darryl Sutter rationalize his decision to seek out and re-sign center Olli Jokinen, after he spent 56 games in Calgary as a disappointing scapegoat stuffed in a punching bag, is like hearing one of your crazy uncle's conspiracy theories. There's a serene approach, there's his own sense of sound logic, and yet you walk away, mouth agape, amazed at how [expletive] batty it is.
"If we didn't believe it, we wouldn't do it," said Sutter about Jokinen's potential Friday morning, meeting the media after inking Olli to a two-year deal and Alex Tanguay(notes) to a one-year deal to bring both players back to Calgary.
His logic, in a nutshell: Jokinen had 35 assists between the Flames and the New York Rangers (where Sutter traded him) last season, to go with 15 goals. Had Jokinen scored 10 more goals, there wouldn't be an issue with him, said Sutter. See, it's as simple as that.
Also, Jokinen could have been a much better player had he been given a playmaker of Tanguay's abilities. Sutter sees their signings as linked, a duo, a package deal, peanut butter and Finnish jelly.
Also, the fans won't scapegoat Jokinen if the Flames are a better team than last season and if he posts the same numbers at a lower salary, as his pay was reduced from $5.5 million cap hit last season to a $3 million hit this season.
Again, it's sound logic from Sutter, at least to Sutter. Less than sound? His claim that the reaction to Olli Deux has been "really, really positive." Which is really, really utter crap.
Here's the back-and-forth with reporters at Friday's presser regarding Jokinen's return:
Actually, we really missed him. The biggest gap that we had in our lineup after we traded Olli was size and speed in the middle.
I think from a point-production standpoint, his assists are where you want them to be, but his goal-scoring wasn't. And I think that ties to Tanguay and Jarome also."
What do make of the public reaction?
The reaction's been really, really positive.
From people that are important.
A lot of your seasons-ticket holders ...
... a lot of your season-ticket holders ...
Next question, please.
... a lot of the fans that we've talked to are incredibly disappointed, as something that didn't work the first time they're led to believe will work this time.
Well, we think that, quite honestly, it did work. It was probably not being able to get that other position player there, such as Alex. They tie together, if you think about it, and that's sort of the end of it, right?
Well, when you think about it, it didn't translate into wins. And that's what these fans here are desperate for.
I think when you look at it ... and again, we move forward in a hurry, we don't stay where you are, right? I think when you look at it, it allows you to slot Staj and Bourquey and those guys; Niklas, in the right place. It puts Curtis and Mosser and Mikael and Daymond all the exact right place. And that's important.
To the fans who wonder if Darryl Sutter cares about them, this passage would be a resounding "no."
It's clear that Jokinen was a body on a depth chart and a number on the stat sheet. Sutter's complete disregard for the poisonous feelings his paying customers have for the player he just signed may be expected in a corporate league, but it's still stunning when you think about the mire this franchise has been sunk into thanks to his mismanagement. Maybe he just figures, "Hey, they're all pissed anyway ... why start apologizing now."
But hoo boy, pissed doesn't cut it. The banner on top of the Calgary Herald:
Again, this is a [expletive] joke. You can still defend Sutter and his moves if you want, but we think it makes you look more and more like a sycophantic moron as the days go by.
From Matchsticks and Gasoline, which is willing to give Olli a chance:
Considering the way things unfolded during Jokinen's last stint in Calgary, I'm more than willing to pass judgment on this signing before the new season even begins, but the fact remains that it is still July 1st and the Flames likely aren't finished augmenting their roster. At the moment, I consider this yet another case of the Sutter equilibrium--one good move negated by an utterly nonsensical one--and although I have my (well-established) doubts, both parties are more than welcome to prove me wrong.
As completely stunning as this move was, an open mind is warranted. Which is exactly what we told a friend of Olli Jokinen's wife over email Thursday night, after she took us to task for our coverage of this center-of-diminishing-returns. She asked if we're "man enough" to admit we're wrong if he plays well next season.
Hell, if we're man enough to handle Mrs. Jokinen telling us she "cannot remember reading a worse article in my life! Really really really BAD writing" ... well, we may just be able to stand up next to a mountain and chop it down with the edge of our hands.