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Flames turn back clock, reunite Iginla and Jokinen

Nov 3, 2011, 4:22 PM EDT

jokinen iginla

Fresh off a 5-1 whipping at the hands of divisional rival Vancouver, the Calgary Flames shook things up in a major way prior to tonight’s game against the Red Wings in Detroit.

Head coach Brent Sutter revamped almost all of his forward lines at this morning’s skate. Roman Horak is centering Rene Bourque and David Moss on the third line; Brendan Morrison is between Lee Stempniak and Alex Tanguay on the second while Olli Jokinen will center Curtis Glencross and Jarome Iginla on the top line.

If you’re thinking “wait, I seem to recall Jokinen and Iginla lighting it up once” you’re probably harkening back to when Calgary first acquired Jokinen in March 2009. This was a really big deal at the time — long before he became Olli “you must be” Jokinen. Upon making the trade, the Flames loaded up their first line with Iginla, Jokinen and Mike Cammalleri and for a while, the trio was unstoppable.

The Cammy-Olli-Iggy line had a scintillating debut, combining for seven points in a 5-1 win over Philly. They continued to play well — Jokinen recorded 15 points in 19 games while Iginla finished with 54 assists, the second-highest total of his career — but then the roof caved in.

The Flames let Cammalleri walk in free agency. Replacements were auditioned, but none found long-term success with Iginla and Jokinen (the closest was Tanguay.) Then Iginla and Jokinen were broken up. Then Jokinen was traded to New York. Then Calgary re-signed him as a free agent.

And now everything’s come full circle.

“Olli’s a different player than he was two years ago when Jarome and him played together,” Sutter told NHL.com. “Olli’s role has changed. He’s playing a different brand of hockey for us. He’s being rewarded for changing his game and the way he’s playing. He’s playing well and enjoying that role. Jarome will have to adjust somewhat to his new linemates and the way they play.”

  1. danphipps01 - Nov 3, 2011 at 5:13 PM

    In all fairness, letting Cammy go was wise. He was going to be expensive as hell and like Jeff Carter or Rick Nash, he needs a dedicated feed man to really produce. When he has one, he absolutely will – but Calgary didn’t want to reduce Iggy to Cammy’s set-up man, which was more or less what happened during the run with that line. Iggy’s assists shot up, but you don’t mention how far his own goal total plunged – he was shooting a lot less and passing to Cammy on a lot of chances he’d normally take himself. For Calgary, it wasn’t worth it. They would have wound up dropping six million a year on his new contract and without anyone else even remotely capable of feeding him the puck, they would have had to use Iggy as his feed man – basically, they didn’t have a playmaking centre and so Cammy’s production would have had to have come at the cost of Iginla’s. Jokinen didn’t pan out as hoped and they just couldn’t justify Cammy’s cost without a better way to use him. It was the right move.

    The revolving-door hilarity with Jokinen, though, was just typical agonizingly bad Calgary GMing. Oh well. Made for all kinds of great punchlines.

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