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Florida Panthers

Olli Jokinen Officially Announces Retirement

USATSI_8512997_154158418_lowresOlli Jokinen has announced his retirement from the National Hockey League.

The 38-year-old Finnish forward signed a one-day contract with the Florida Panthers to retire as a member of the franchise after spending seven years there. He’s Florida’s all-time leader in points, goals, game-winners, overtime goals, power play points, and shots on goal.

“My heart has always been with the Panthers organization and now I feel like my career has come full circle,” Jokinen said. “I am extremely grateful that I had the chance to play hockey in South Florida and help the sport grow. I want to thank my family…and all of the fans, teammates, coaches and staff who have supported me throughout my career.”

Jokinen began his hockey career in Finland with KalPa in his hometown of Kuopio, where other NHLers like Sami Kapanen and Kimmo Timonen spent time. He became SM-liiga’s rookie of the year in 1996-1997 while playing with Helsinki’s HIFK and picked up a buzz in NHL Central Scouting, where he was listed as the top European prospect in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.

The Los Angeles Kings selected Jokinen third overall in that draft and he made his NHL debut in October of 1997, but the team returned him to Finland after eight games.

Jokinen eventually returned to the ice for the Kings and played 66 games for the club in 1998-1999, amassing 21 points before he was bundled up into a trade with the New York Islanders that saw Zigmund Palffy sent to Los Angeles.

After a season on Long Island, Jokinen was traded again in a package with Roberto Luongo and landed in Florida.

Times were tough initially, as Jokinen clashed with the coaching staff and had difficulty putting points on the board. But he picked up the pace when new coach Mike Keenan arrived in 2002-2003 and put up 65 points in 81 games.

Jokinen played his best hockey in Florida, including a 91-point campaign in 2006-2007 and an 89-point season in 2005-2006. He was named team captain in the 2003-2004 season, but the Panthers struggled to make the post-season and he was eventually traded at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft to the Phoenix Coyotes.

After 57 games in Phoenix, Jokinen was traded to the Calgary Flames. He had 10 points in his first six games with the team, but things fell apart after the fast start and he began to receive resounding criticism from local media.

Jokinen shifted his focus to a more defensive brand of hockey and spent his final seasons in Winnipeg, Nashville, Toronto, and St. Louis after a 26-game stint with the New York Rangers and a return run with the Flames.

His last season as a player came in 2014-2015 and he worked as a trainer in Florida before making it all official today.

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