Jussi Jokinen played 25 games for the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2008-09 regular season and scored… one goal. ONE. That’s a little hard to imagine now, after remembering his seven goals during the 2009 playoffs, followed by a 30-goal season in 2009-10.
Jokinen was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the sixth round (192nd overall) of the 2001 NHL draft and spent three seasons there where he became known as a shootout specialist. He was perfect in his first nine attempts. He was traded to the Tampa Bay Lightning on February 26, 2008 as part of a transaction that sent Brad Richards to Dallas. Jussi had a decent start in Tampa, earning the respect of then-coach Barry Melrose, but when Melrose was released and Rick Tocchet was brought in, he did not mesh well in Tocchet’s system, his performance suffered, and he was eventually placed on waivers.
In one of general manager Jim Rutherford’s more savvy trade moves, Jokinen was acquired by the Hurricanes on February 7, 2009 in exchange for Josef Melichar and Wade Brookbank, neither of whom were actively being used in the Hurricanes lineup, along with a 2009 fourth-round draft pick. Jokinen got off to a slow start in Carolina, first dealing with the personal challenges of the loss of his father and then trying to find his niche in the lineup. An injury to second-line center Matt Cullen opened an opportunity for Jussi to slide into a spot, and the rest is legen(wait for it)dary.
Jokinen tallied seven goals on the way to the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals. Three of them were game-winners, the most dramatic coming with 0.2 seconds to play in Game 4 against the Devils on April 21, 2009. He followed that up with a game-tying goal in the final two minutes of Game 7 on April 28, 2009 in a game that the Canes would go on to win 48 seconds later. By the time the Hurricanes returned to Raleigh for Game 3 against the Boston Bruins, the crowd was chanting “Oh Say Can Jussi” during the national anthem, and he did not disappoint, scoring 5 points and both game winners in front of the home crowd in Games 3 and 4.
Jokinen followed up his outstanding playoff performance with his career best year in 2009-10, scoring 30 goals and collecting 65 points. A humble man, he was moved by the support when he became part of a grass roots fan campaign to add him to the roster of the 2011 All-Star Game.
Jussi’s career spanned five seasons with the Canes before being traded to the Penguins on April 3, 2013. (He has since moved on to the Florida Panthers). During his tenure he played 288 games and collected 68 goals, 117 points, 14 game-winning goals, 23 power play goals and a franchise best 10 shootout goals. He was appreciated for his versatility, ability to play in any situation and on any forward line or role, and for his clutch performances in some of the biggest games in franchise history.
Written by Jamie Kellner. You can find Jamie on Twitter=@jbkellner and her Canes photos at jamiekellner.smugmug.com.