Florida Panthers

Finland comes to Sunrise as Florida Panthers’ Jussi Jokinen greets rival team

Florida’s Jussi Jokinen battles Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon and Rene Bourque on Dec. 16.
Florida’s Jussi Jokinen battles Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon and Rene Bourque on Dec. 16. AP

Members of Finland’s HIFK hockey front office were guests of the Florida Panthers for Friday’s morning skate and spoke with Jussi Jokinen following practice.

HIFK, based in Helsinki, is one of the more decorated teams in the Finnish Elite League and claims such NHL alumni as Nicklas Backstrom and Tuomo Ruutu as well as former Florida players Olli Jokinen, Tomas Vokoun, Ville Peltonen, Cory Murphy and Tim Thomas.

Jokinen is not one of those former HIFK players who made it to the NHL as he came up with rival Kärpät — a team of which he is a part-owner.

Despite the rivalry between the two, Jokinen seemed happy to see familiar faces from back home.

Jokinen even accepted a stack of HIFK gear from the group as gifts as they held a quick q&a session and posed for photos on the Club Lexus level.

Sasha Barkov, a native of Tampere, played in the Liiga for his hometown Tappara squad.

“I enjoy stuff like this and they’re here to see what they can take from our organization back to Finland,” said Jokinen, who hails from Kalajoki.

“I know a few of them, so it’s always nice to see guys from Finland here in Florida.”

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