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Guy Behind the Guy: The Case for Jussi

Wednesday, 12.30.2009 / 9:56 AM / Tracking the Storm
By Mike Sundheim
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Guy Behind the Guy: The Case for Jussi
First of all, congratulations to Tuomo Ruutu and Joni Pitkanen, who will each get the opportunity to represent their home country on the world’s biggest stage in February. As we outlined in our press release, both players have most certainly earned the right to be in Vancouver.

Mike Sundheim
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However, I could have quite easily written a third paragraph for that release. And, you could argue, it would have been at the least as impressive as the other two. Here’s what it would have sounded like:

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Jussi Jokinen, 26, ranks tied for first among Hurricanes skaters in goals (11), tied for second in points (25) and tied for fourth in assists (14) this season. The Kalajoki, Finland, native ranks tied for third among all Finnish-born NHL skaters in goals (11) this season and tied for fourth in points (25). Acquired by the Hurricanes from Tampa Bay on Feb. 7, 2009, Jokinen has 12 goals and 24 assists (36 points) in 63 regular-season games with Carolina. He also notched seven goals, including a league-leading three game-winning goals, during the 2009 Stanley Cup Playoffs for the Hurricanes. Jokinen (5’11”, 198 lbs.) has totaled 65 goals and 132 assists (197 points) in 344 career regular-season NHL games with Dallas, Tampa Bay and Carolina. He is first in NHL history in shootout goals with 26.

Jokinen has extensive international experience for Finland, including notching four points (1g, 3a) to help Finland capture the silver medal at the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Torino, Italy. Selected by Dallas in the sixth round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Jokinen also represented Finland at the IIHF World Championships (2005, 2006, 2008), The U-20 World Junior Championships (2002, 2003) and the U-18 World Junior Championships (2001).

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Performance. Experience. Excellence under pressure. Shootout success. All ingredients that I would hope Jari Kurri and his staff took into consideration when putting together their Olympic Squad.

We’ll hear the word “snub” a lot in the coming days (and hours, in fact, as Canada will unveil its roster at noon today). Some have already claimed that the exclusion of Mikael Samuelsson from the Swedish squad was one of the biggest snubs in Olympic history. (Samuelsson obviously agreed). For what it’s worth, Samuelsson currently has identical stats to Jokinen this season, and ranks tied for ninth among his countrymen in NHL scoring.

I expect that Jussi will handle the situation with class today. Like his Finnish teammates, he has known his Olympic fate for a few days now. With more than a month of hockey to be played before the Olympics start, there is plenty of time for someone on the roster to go down to injury, and a spot to open up. My guess is Jussi will say the right things, keep piling up points and be ready to go if Kurri gives him the call.

If the opportunity presents itself, I don’t think Finland will leave off Jussi’s name again.


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