Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Versatility Remains Jokinen's Top Asset

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Versatility Remains Jokinen's Top Asset

Article excerpt

If Jussi Jokinen were a baseball player, he might best be described as a utilityman. But Jokinen is a hockey player, and that makes him versatile.

Jokinen, a forward acquired Wednesday by the Penguins in a trade with Carolina, joined the team for practice Thursday at Consol Energy Center. He is expected to play tonight when the New York Rangers visit, manning the center spot between Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis.

That spot on the top line usually is filled by team captain Sidney Crosby, who is out because of jaw surgery.

"Probably it's going to be pretty much everywhere," Jokinen said of his role. "But I'm going to start with playing center because Sid is out, and then just go from there."

Jokinen can play center or either wing -- and that's not an embellishment he puts on his resume.

"I'm comfortable with all three," he said. "I don't even know what is my favorite position anymore. I've played so much at every [forward] position."

Jokinen has played and is willing to play on any line. His production has ranged from 30 goals with Carolina in 2009-10 to six in 33 games this season, when his playing time dropped. He cleared waivers last month without being claimed.

"I've done all of those roles," Jokinen said. "I've been an offensive guy, first line, scoring 30 goals. And then some years I've been a little bit more of a playmaker, and some years a little bit of a penalty-killing guy, a faceoff guy.

"I think that's always been my strength -- I can play every position, every role and just be versatile."

He didn't get to try out much of any role Thursday because there were only 10 players who participated in an optional practice. Kunitz and Dupuis were among those who opted out.

Jokinen, 30, isn't sweating the tutorial on the Penguins system. This is his fourth NHL team, and he has played several times on the national team for his native Finland.

"I've been through a lot of coaches," he said. "I think I can fit in with the system pretty quick and try to learn as quickly as I can."

One of his Finnish teammates at the world championships and 2006 Olympics was former Penguins winger Jarkko Ruutu. …

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