The Calgary Flames continued their extreme makeover late Monday, trading forwards Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust to the New York Rangers for Ales Kotalik and Christopher Higgins.
"Definitely, it's a slap in the face to get traded," fumed Jokinen as he exited the Pengrowth Saddledome.
The deal, rumoured to have been struck Sunday, was finalized Monday and announced following Calgary's 3-0 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, which featured the debut of Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers, Matt Stajan and Ian White for the Flames.
That quartet was acquired Sunday from the Toronto Maple Leafs in return for Dion Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom and Keith Aulie.
"It was a long day," Jokinen said. "We heard everything yesterday.
"Last night, I was kind of surprised. I wasn't expecting to get moved, but it's part of the business and I've got to move on."
'It's a slap in the face to get traded' —Olli Jokinen
"My phone was going off the hook last night just waiting to hear confirmation and pacing around for hours," Prust told reporters. "I guess I didn't sleep too well and then you come out here and you have to get focused and get ready to help your team get two points.
"We're professionals and you've got to go about business a certain way. It was definitely a different way, but it's done now."
Both Jokinen and Prust played in Calgary's loss to the Flyers.
"You've got to play hard every time you go on the ice, no matter what kind of distractions you have going on and you play for that sweater — the logo on the front of you — so long as they haven't told you you're not part of the team," Jokinen said. "I just learned I'm not part of the team and now I have to turn the page."
It marks a quicker than expected return to Alberta for Kotalik, who skated in 19 games with the Edmonton Oilers at the tail end of last season.
Although he had seven goals and 11 points, the Oilers opted not to re-sign him and he later resurfaced in New York with a three-year, $9-million US contract.
Kotalik, 31, has eight goals and 22 points with a minus-18 rating in 45 games this season, his eighth in the NHL.
Kotalik has totalled 129 goals and 273 points in 490 games since he was taken in the sixth round (164th overall) by the Buffalo Sabres in the 1998 NHL draft, but lacklustre efforts of late have landed him in the press box as a healthy scratch for eight of New York's last nine games.
Higgins has received harsh reviews on Broadway since re-signing with the Rangers for $2.25 million US, scoring just six goals and setting up eight more in 54 games.
A three-time 20-goal scorer, the 26-year-old has 90 goals and 165 points in 337 NHL games since being drafted 14th overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 2002.
'11 goals isn't going to cut it'
Jokinen, like Higgins, is an unrestricted free agent at season's end and, presently earning $5.25 million, wasn't likely to be re-signed by Calgary.
Acquired last season from the Phoenix Coyotes, he scored eight goals in his first six games with the Flames, only to be held without a goal over the final 13 games.
Jokinen, 31, has proven equally enigmatic this season, with just 11 goals and 35 points in 56 games.
"Eleven months ago, when I got traded here I was pretty excited," said Jokinen, who has 248 goals and 553 points in 855 games with five NHL teams.
"I enjoyed my time here and I was hoping I could stay here for the rest of my career. It's a cruel business, but that's the way it goes.
"It comes with the salary. You make $5 million, 11 goals isn't going to cut it."
Prust, who enjoyed two separate stints with the Flames, has a goal and five points in 43 games this season, and is second in the NHL with 18 fighting majors.
"Calgary's become my home and I'll always respect the city and the organization," he said. "They gave me an opportunity and this is just the business side of the game.
"This is the ugly side, I guess you could say."
Prust, a 26-year-old from London, Ont., is eligible for restricted free agency on July 1.