Here's what we have on the Olli Jokinen rumors:
I get a call Saturday afternoon, telling me Olli is upset because he's heard that JM is shopping him around to other teams. Also told the team is pretty upset about stuff (losing included) and there may be some sort of "revolt" Will talk more on that below.
I can't get confirmation on rumors during the afternoon, but obviously this rumor has legs.
JM and Alan Cohen hear about it in the afternoon; Olli's agent -- Mark Gandler -- hears about it and calls Olli. French-Canadian all-sports network RDS reports it sometime in the evening.
After tonight's Carolina-Florida game, we speak to all the folks involved -- except for the base (as far as I know) of where the rumor started.
Olli, who appeared to be in a pretty good mood to me this morning, says all is well. He spoke to management -- including Michael Yormark apparently -- and says he is happy with their explanation.
“I don’t know where they get this information,’’ Jokinen said. “As a player, to be quite honest, I’m used to this stuff. But it’s not what you want to hear. It’s not a good feeling to get a call like that from your agent.’’
JM tells us basically the same thing, says there is no truth to the rumor. At all. Says because the rumor came out of Canada "it must have been started in Canada by someone who wants him.'' Could this be another shot at Mike Keenan? Who knows. Canada's pretty big.
Alan Cohen chimes in, laughing at the report and telling Olli he basically has a no-trade clause in his contract because "I'm never trading him.''
Onto the other rumor about players not being happy.
This I believe, although I don't know about this whole revolt thing. I think guys are tired of losing, tired of coming up with the same excuses. But for the most part, they come out and give a good effort every night and are in every single game. Losing at the end of games the way this team does is troublesome and I think its bothering guys in a very profound way.
I think it's good JM squashed the Olli rumors, and it appears he did it the right way. He didn't wait for the rumors to blow up, he quickly went to Olli and defused them. Get it out in the open. This organization has done things in the shadows for a long time. It hasn't helped cultivate a winning attitude.
Like I wrote earlier, the Ollu rumors didn't make much sense. Olli's captain and face of this franchise -- for better or worse. Management is behind Olli. Just the other day, Michael Yormark told Olli this is his team; Alan Cohen told me he expects Olli to start carrying this team.
Rival GMs love planting stuff like this. It's very possible JM hasn't spoken to a single soul about Olli -- but someone planted this and it moved on.
I am interested in seeing the makeup of the locker room. I don't think JM has lost his voice in there, and the power he wields as GM adds to his weight as the coach. I don't believe he is going anywhere. This organization has been floating around rudderless for too long.
They have stability now and have to hope staying the course will help turn into victories. The Panthers organization has said all the right things about the way they want to turn things around, and have backed up talk by opening the checkbook. They need to stay the way they are going.
And the players, the ones who ultimately aren't getting the desired results on the ice, need to stick together and trudge through.
The team gets a day off in Washington DC on Sunday. I think this could be a good opportunity. Go out, have some fun, watch some football, blow off some steam (and take cabs). This is one up-tight team, and a little fun -- DC ain't Vegas but whatever -- could do them a world of good.
As one player I talked to today said "all this goes away when we start winning.''
And that's the truth, ruth.
-- Those who want to join in on the discussion, please do. Would love to hear from fans about this. A couple of comments from the previous post were deleted when I merged and rewrote the two posts. Sorry about that.
I welcome any and all comments on posts. The more the merrier, as long as we keep it clean.