Jussi Jokinen is back from Finland, back to skating with some of his Canes teammates at Raleigh Center Ice.
Jokinen has some stories to tell, too. Unlike the other guys at RCI, he's actually played some professional hockey games this season.
"Obviously this whole (NHL) situation is unfortunate," Jokinen said today. "When I was pretty sure it was going to be a lockout, I was obviously hoping it would be really quick (before it was resolved). I wanted to go somewhere and play and be as ready as I can if the league was to start. I was hoping it would start sometime in October, but that's not the case.
"I played eight games and I think that's what every players right now misses: playing hockey. Obviously I enjoyed it a lot and playing in my hometown."
Jokinen returned from Finland in early September and was at the informal skates at RCI for a few days. But he then signed an eight-game contract to play for Karpat of the Finnish Elite League in Oulu, where he spent four seasons before coming to the NHL in 2005.
"When I left there seven years ago I wasn't sure if that was the last time I would have a chance to play there," he said. "So obviously I tried to enjoy every minute, every moment. They have great fans there, and the fans there were excited to see me and other NHL players in that league."
Jokinen had two goals and eight assists in the eight games. Tax and insurance issues factored into his decision to come back, and he broguht his family with him to Raleigh. He's not ruling out more games in Finland or elsewhere should the lockout continue into late December.
Jokinen said returning to Karpat before or after Christmas was one option. He said there could be other options in Europe.
"All we can hope now is we get this thing solved as soon as possible," he said.
Will it be solved quickly?
"It's tough to say," Jokinen said. "I think right now both sides are pretty far away. That's the realistic part of this. I don't think it's looking too good right now. I hope it changes quick.
"It's very unfortunate for lots of people. Lots of people can't do their jobs right now, people in the hockey rinks. I feel like everybody is losing right now. It's just very unfortunate."
Jokinen has had that taste of hockey now. He has heard the roar of the crowd and been in competition, and he wants more.
Today, Jokinen was at RCI with Joni Pitkanen, Jamie McBain, Eric and Jordan Staal, Jay Harrison, Pat Dwyer, Chad LaRose and Joe Corvo. Kevin Westgarth of the LA Kings, who lives in Raleigh in the offseason, again joined the skate.
"The hardest part for now is practicing and working out and no one knows the date when we will be able to play again," Jokinen said. "When you get injured during a season you know you'll miss a week or two weeks, a month or two months. You work toward that date when you can come back.
"For now, it takes a lot of motivation from within. Obviously we have a lot of guys here skating and pushing each other. That helps."