The Philadelphia Flyers drafted defenseman Joni Pitkanen fourth overall in the 2002 NHL entry draft, with hopes that the gifted blueliner would reach his potential and become one of the best offensive-minded blueliners in the league. But what the Flyers soon learned about Joni, was that despite his high ceiling of potential, his head was never quite there.
Joni was uncoachable and not getting along with anyone on the team. A notorious introvert, the Flyers finally said enough is enough and traded Pitkanen to Edmonton last offseason for Joffrey Lupul and Jason Smith. Edmonton had the idea that a change of scenery may open the Finn up to others, and allow him to be coached better. But after a mediocre season with the Oilers, Edmonton refused to re-sign Pitkanen, and in a surprise move, dished him away to the Carolina Hurricanes.
The trading away of Pitkanen after only one season proves to the experts that called the Flyers insane for giving up on Joni, that despite his oogles of talent, the kid has a screw loose and is impossible to deal with.
When asked about trading Pitkanen, Oilers’ captain Ethan Moreau said “He (Joni) wasn’t a very outgoing person. He just wasn’t a good fit; he didn’t fit in with the players or the coaches like we thought he would. Hopefully things work out better for him in a different place.”
Knowing how ambassador-like players can be when speaking to the media, Moreau’s veiled comments speak volumes. He essentially says Pitkanen was uncoachable and his introvert attitude rubbed his teammates the wrong way exactly like they did in Philly. There was a rumor in Edmonton that after every home game, Joni was out of the locker room before anyone else, like he punched out of a time clock at a local Wal-Mart.
Knowing now that the Flyers fleeced Edmonton in the highly contested trade last summer, the real question now is: When we can we announce General Manager Paul Holmgren as execuative of the decade?