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Flames' reasons for signing Olli Jokinen do and don't make sense

Jul 3, 2010, 4:27 PM EDT

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ollijokinen3.jpgThe Flames foray into free agency this year is one that has mostly driven Flames fans insane. The signing of Olli Jokinen has been the focus of most of the attention of fans not only in Calgary but also around the league. The two sides parted ways on such poor terms before thanks to Jokinen being thoroughly unproductive (75 GP, 19 G, 31 A over two seasons) and with the Flames losing a first round pick to the Coyotes in the process when they traded him away.

So what would motivate Darryl Sutter to invoke public outcry and sign back the one time Flames pariah for failure? It turns out, it’s got a bit more to do with the health of Daymond Langkow according to the Calgary Herald.

Centre Daymond Langkow is struggling to recover from a season-ending neck injury suffered in the spring. His status for next season is unknown.

“It’s still an issue,” said the Calgary Flames general manager. “We’re 100 days post-injury. We thought he would be further along that he is, and he’s still not.

“We’re still 100 days away (from the start of the season), but it is a concern.”

Back on March 21, medics wheeled Langkow off the ice in Minnesota via stretcher after taking an Ian White slap shot off the base of the neck. From the impact of the blast, Langkow suffered what Sutter calls a “slight” fracture of the vertebrae at the base of the neck.

“To be quite honest, it ties big into Olli too.”

This year’s free agency class at center wasn’t exactly teeming over with stellar talent and another center the Flames could’ve been looking at was yet another former Flame in Matthew Lombardi (he signed with Nashville yesterday). The Flames, however, made their move first and it was to Jokinen. What is Sutter’s justification on Jokinen? It’s interesting to say the least.

“We felt in discussing it with the players — Jarome and Olli and Alex — that’s what they felt they missed was a playmaker with them,” Sutter said. “Certainly Tanguay is capable of that.”

As for the reaction to the Jokinen signing?

“Actually, it’s been really, really positive,” Sutter said.

From whom?

“From the people who are important.”

The season-ticket holders?

“Including them,” Sutter said. “Especially them.”

Signs you know you’ve made a questionable signing: When you’re instantly defensive when being asked questions as to why you made it in the first place. That said, ending up on Darryl Sutter’s bad side can’t be all that difficult as he always looks to be so pleasant.

Making Alex Tanguay the linchpin that will supposedly make the the line with Jokinen and Iginla work is an intriguing call on its own. Tanguay’s 09-10 season in Tampa was less than stellar (80 GP, 10 G, 27 A) while playing alongside Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos. Banking on Tanguay to be the missing link to provide success for both Jokinen and Iginla is almost the definition of “putting all your eggs in one basket.” Whether Tanguay can be the setup man or not may determine whether or not Darryl Sutter gets to keep his job in the front office.

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