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PANTHERS CREATE RIFT BETWEEN TEAM AND FORMER PLAYERS JOKINEN, VOKOUN AND DVORAK

To say Olli Jokinen, Tomas Vokoun and Radek Dvorak feel disrespected by their former team the Florida Panthers would be putting it mildly. Since the three past NHLers retired, they've been running a hockey school in Florida called the South Florida Hockey Academy. According to a recent article by Ilta Sanomat, the three enjoyed an excellent working relationship with their former team, until recently.

Jokinen, Vokoun and Dvorak all served as instructors at the academy besides owning it. As the academy began to grow, the three sought out a partnership with the Panthers, which the team jumped at. Two years ago, the trio signed a lease with Florida to operate out of the Panthers' training facility for the next four years.

The SFHA has become an excellent incubator for young players in Southern Florida and, apparently, the team saw an opportunity. It recently offered to take over the academy from Jokinen, Vokoun and Dvorak. As part of the agreement, the three would stay on as instructors, being paid $5000 a year for 15 hours per week each. The former teammates didn't like the terms of the proposal and refused. The Panthers then reportedly cut all ties with the hockey academy, cancelling the lease agreement.

"The offer was just so classless," Jokinen told Ilta Sanomat. "The numbers did not meet, so no deal took place. They said this is like a cafe that doesn’t own its own business space."

"The lease included a reciprocal termination option. The Panthers used it, and we lost the place," Jokinen added.

The SFHA has since entered into a new 10-year lease with another hockey facility in Florida and will be resuming operations in April of 2021.

Vokoun played four seasons with the Florida Panthers. Dvorak played there for eight seasons in two separate stints. Jokinen was a member of the Panthers for seven seasons.

TIM TUCKER
JULY 4, 2020  (14H43)
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