Jokinen on waivers; Roberts to play
Lightning general manager Brian Lawton said Wednesday that forward Jussi Jokinen was put on waivers and come Thursday likely will no longer be with the Lightning. Lawton said he has had contact with another team that expressed interest in Jokinen. We will find out at noon Thursday whether he was claimed. If not, Lawton said Jokinen and his $1.875-million salary will be shipped to AHL Norfolk. At that point, the salary would come off the Lightning's salary cap number.
Jokinen was seen leaving Mellon Arena with his laundry bag at about noon Wednesday, when he would have been put on waivers. Before heading out, he apologized for not being able to say more than "no comment right now."
It is the second time Jokinen has been on waivers. He cleared the first time but was not moved in the required 30 days, so he must clear again.
The move was part of a busy day for the Lightning, which took left wing Gary Roberts off injured reserve and put him into the lineup for tonight's game with the Penguins. To make room on the roster, goaltender Mike Smith (upper body) was put on injured reserve retroactive to Friday, meaning he is available for Saturday's game with the Islanders at the St. Pete Times Forum and is expected to play.
Jokinen really has struggled lately. He had six goals in the season's first 16 games, all under former coach Barry Melrose. Since Melrose was fired and Rick Tocchet took over, Jokinen is without a goal in the 30 games he has played.
"He tried hard. He played hard," Lawton said. "I'd like to see him get another opportunity. We have a lot of players here and it wasn't going to work out. It's the nature of the business. I like him as a guy but this is a results-oriented business and the results weren't there for him."
Jokinen certainly got caught up in a numbers game, and it is bound to continue. With forward Paul Szczechura (lower body) and defenseman Marek Malik (ankle) getting ready to come off injured reserve, there will be more tough decisions to make, especially at forward where the team has 14 skaters and already scratching two per game.
Other stuff from this morning: As expected, Mike McKenna gets the start in goal after a tough performance Tuesday from Karri Ramo. ... Left wing Adam Hall plays in his 400th NHL game. ... Forwards Ryan Craig and Matt Pettinger are scratched, though it is unclear if Pettinger is being held out due to an injury. His right ankle was taped as he rode the stationary bike.