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Olli Jokinen rips his teammates in a closed door meeting


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Jokinen blasts teammates for lack of effort

`I didn't see 20 guys going hard'

Leafs up next for struggling Panthers

Nov. 28, 2005. 05:06 AM




SUNRISE, Fla.?Olli Jokinen, captain of the woeful Florida Panthers, was deadly accurate with both his shot and his words over the weekend.


On Friday, the centre snapped in his first career hat trick to help the Pussycats end a 12-game losing streak. Then Saturday he simply snapped after his squad started poorly then faded badly in a 7-4 loss to the Thrashers.


Jokinen was ticked.


"We've got one win in a month and we come in and think it's going to be an easy game. That's awful," he said.


"I didn't see 20 guys going hard. If you want to get some wins in this league, that's what you need. You can't do that once a week."


So the Leafs, after a morning flight and a free afternoon of fun in the sun, will face a Panthers team tonight that is in disarray though, oddly, not yet impossibly out of the playoff race. Although Florida is last in the Eastern Conference with 18 points in 24 games, it sits only nine points behind cross-state rival Tampa, which holds down the last playoff spot.


The Panthers are quick to point out that it is early in the schedule and, as GM Mike Keenan observed, an NHL team could lose all 82 games and still make the playoffs with 82 points, but the depth of Florida's woes have been a surprise.


This a young team that appeared on the rise before hockey shut down at the end of the 2003-04 season and Keenan augmented that squad with several free agent signings, including pals Gary Roberts and Joe Nieuwendyk out of Toronto.


Other free agent additions were Jozef Stumpel, Martin Gelinas, Chris Gratton, Sean Hill, Eric Cairns and Alexander Karpovtsev, another one-time Leaf. Almost universally, those additions have been a bust.


Those eight players total some $10.5 million (all figures U.S.) in salary this season, about two-fifths of Florida's entire budget, and have accounted for only 12 goals. The most disappointing is likely Stumpel, a centre who is earning $1.625 million, can't play defence and has not scored in 22 games.


The 39-year-old Nieuwendyk hasn't been able to provide the leadership the Panthers had hoped for because he's missed 15 games with back spasms.




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didn't seem to do much good tonight.


2-1, another loss.


The Panthers are not making this baseball offseason any easier. :bangdesk



It's early in the season, but as the article said... their acquisitions have been almost a total waste. Roberts & Nieuwendyk haven't been healthy (& at their age that's not surprising), Stumpel & Gelinas haven't contributed much either.

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Gelinas has played well. In fact he, Roberts, and Nieuwendyk have been about the only positive Free Agent acquisitions so far. But Stumpel has been a bigger bust than Shvidki was. Karpovtsev signing with us I never understood, but I am glad he is gone. Cairns hasn't exactly been moving people out in front, though in all fairness, the new rules don't let you. Sean Hill hasn't played up to his capabilities yet.



All in all, I've seen signs of this team coming out of their funk with the past three games. Tonights game they worked hard the entire night but just fell victim to a hot Belfour and an extremely hot Bryan McCabe.

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