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Leader of the Pack

Friday, 07.7.2006 / 12:00 AM ET / News
Florida Panthers
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Leader of the Pack

Panthers captain Olli Jokinen is in it for the long haul, and ready to take the Panthers to the playoffs

It's almost noon on Thursday, a tough day to look Olli Jokinen in the eye. He tries to make it a normal day. He stands in line with his team-mates, just outside the Florida Panthers locker room, taking part in short 20-yard sprints down a lifeless cement hallway on the ground level of the BankAtlantic Center. The sound echoing down the hallway is a distinct acoustic, with only the rhythmic smacking of rubber soles breaking the silence. Between runs, Jokinen takes some verbal pokes at a visibly over-worked PR guy. As Jokinen smirks, his target bows his head and looks away, knowing full well that any minute Jokinen could be headed for another lifeless cement hallway, in one of 29 other NHL arenas. Today is not a normal day. It's March 9 — the trading deadline. It is a day that, in the past, has marked the departure of some of the Panthers'most recognizable stars. This is a thought in the forefront of the minds of fans, staff and players. But apparently not Jokinen.

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