Jokinen talks about Keenan

11-11-2003, 08:01 AM
I don't know if this has been done already somewhere, but I translated an article from today's Iltalehti, a Finnish newspaper. It is written by OJ himself, I thought you might find it interesting. English obviously isn't my native language, I hope the text is still readable.

It was a weekend full of events in the Panthers organization. Coach Mike Keenan got fired. We lost the road game on Saturday against St. Louis 2-0. Our flight landed at Fort Lauderdale at about three o'clock Sunday morning. Half an hour later I was at home, and was surprised to see my wife was awake. He said coach Mike Keenan had called and asked me to call him back.

I knew right away what was going on. I thought for a moment, or rather gathered my thoughts, to make the phonecall. What can you say to a fired coach at 3:30 in the morning?

The nightly call to Mike Keenan was a long one. He told me he had been fired and wanted to tell his captain first. Actually, I was the one who spoke more; I thanked him on behalf of myself and the team.

I don't want to tell more specifically about the call. What I can say is that during the phonecall, a softer side of Keenan came up. Under the hard crust, he does have feelings.


Mike Keenan is the coach who gave my career a big lift. He respected me as a player, and I respected him as a coach. He gave me a chance in this league.

A coach does not win or lose games. He creates the tactics and the lineups. But the players have full responsibility for what is happening in the rink. In a business like this, the organization has to react when the team is not winning. It is said that it is easier to fire a coach than 23 players.

I have to admit something. Before I played for Keenan, I was an athlete and a hockey player. With his help I became a top athlete. Keenan taught me and the team how much work needs to be done to reach the top.

I told Keenan about my feelings, I felt like I owed him that. At the end of the phonecall he wished me good luck to the rest of my career. You never know if our paths will meet again.


At the moment, GM Rick Dudley has the coaching duties. Dudley knows the team, since he is the one who has built it. A new coach is probably coming, but I don't know about any names.

The press was asking me how my style of play is going to change now. It won't. Ultimately, it's doesn't matter who is standing behind the bench. After all, I'm playing for Florida Panthers and right now for Rick Dudley.

Trades and firings are the darker side of NHL. Players are traded to other organizations and sent down. A familiar coach can be unemployed after one phonecall.

You have to get used to everything.


The firing of Keenan was quite the bomb. At least I wasn't expecting it at all. It took a day off for it to kick in. I took part in the press conference regarding the news together with Roberto Luongo and Lyle Odelein on Sunday afternoon. On top of that we had a meeting with the team in the evening.

This is what the owners think will bring us closer to our goal, which is a playoff spot. Players have to respect what their employer wants.


We have a four-game week ahead of us. All in all, we play 15 games this month. The critical moments concerning the playoffs are about to start. We are 5-6 points below the line at the moment. We need to get wins now, before it is too late.

Now the team knows for sure that we have the responsibility. Next, players will be traded [if the results don't improve].

It is time to wake up and do our job.

Edit: the language...
Edit 2: "again" -> "against" (how can I have missed it?)

11-11-2003, 08:13 AM
Thanks for posting this ;) Good read indeed.

11-11-2003, 08:27 AM

11-11-2003, 10:56 AM
Great job, Demon, on behalf of the Cat fans and myself on this board, thank you very much. BTW, that's better english than I hear in S. Fl in a whole month. Great read! :handclap:

11-11-2003, 12:01 PM
that's better english than I hear in S. Fl in a whole month. Great read! :handclap:

I think you nailed that one on the head. I hear more broken english from people that live here.

No problems reading it and thanks for the post. :handclap: