JIM DIAMOND, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Olli Jokinen said the opportunity to play for new Nashville coach Peter Laviolette was one of the reasons why he chose to sign with the Predators.
Jokinen met the Nashville media on Saturday, three days after the Predators signed the 35-year-old free-agent center to a one-year, $2.5 million contract.
“His teams have always been with high tempo, with good skating, and they create a lot of chances, a lot of offense,” Jokinen said. “At the same time, his teams have always been hard to play against with team speed. Very organized, and stick with the game plan.”
Jokinen also said he was eager for the opportunity to get to the postseason, something that has eluded him and the Predators recently.
After making the postseason in seven of eight seasons, the Predators have failed to get there the past two years. The lone playoff appearance of Jokinen’s career came in 2009 when he was a member of the Calgary Flames.
“We both have the same background in the last couple years, and that’s one negative we both have, and that’s not making the playoffs,” Predators general manager David Poile said. “That’s something that I know he wants to do, and he is going to do everything he can to help us get there.”
Nashville is the eighth stop in Jokinen’s NHL career, which began in the 1997-98 season, a year before the Predators joined the NHL as an expansion franchise. The Los Angeles Kings selected Jokinen with the No. 3 pick in the 1997 draft.
Jokinen was the second forward added to the Nashville roster recently. At last week’s draft, the Predators acquired high-scoring forward James Neal in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
It has been an offseason of change in Nashville. Following the season, Poile replaced Barry Trotz, the only head coach the team had since entering the league, with Laviolette.
One of the reasons Poile made that move was because of Laviolette’s up-tempo offensive system. That should appeal to Jokinen, who has scored more than 20 goals seven times. In 1,169 regular-season games, he has 317 goals and 423 assists.
While playing for Finland at this spring’s world championships, Jokinen talked extensively with Predators goalie Pekka Rinne about Nashville.
“I was trying to gather as much information that I could get from the players from the different teams,” Jokinen said. “He gave me good information in the world championships.”
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