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Rankin buzzing over Tootoo landing in Detroit

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It didn't take the excitement long to build after news broke of Rankin Inlet's Jordin Tootoo signing a three-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings.

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Jordin Tootoo says he will always appreciate the chance the Nashville Predators gave him to play hockey in the greatest league in the world. - NNSL file photo

To many folks in Rankin, Tootoo playing with an Original 6 team is super cool and the community is allowing itself to dream of the day he lands in Rankin with Lord Stanley's mug in tow.

Warren Kusugak said he was shocked when he first heard the news Tootoo had signed with Detroit.

He said he really thought Nashville would re-sign Tootoo, until he saw the announcement on Twitter the team was going to let him leave.

"After I saw that, I wasn't really sure where Jordin would sign," said Kusugak.

"I didn't think it would be Detroit, though, because of the real rivalry between those two teams.

"So that's why I was shocked when I heard that's where he signed, but I think he's going to be a good fit there.

"Detroit's a classy organization, big time, so Jordin should fit in pretty good there."

Kusugak said the Nashville fans will, probably, still cheer Tootoo when he arrives in a Red Wings jersey.

He said most of the Nashville fans will understand or, at least, accept his decision.

"He was really loved by the fans in Nashville.

"There was a news release saying the Predators weren't going to sign him, so they can't blame Jordin for not staying.

"That's my opinion, anyway."

Kusugak said he couldn't understand why Tootoo sat out most of the playoffs this year.

He said Tootoo had a great playoff in 2011 and had one of his best years ever this past regular season.

"The whole team was playing so well until they brought the Russians in (Andrei Kostitsyn and Alexander Radulov), then they were a totally different team in the playoffs.

"I wasn't surprised when Radulov whet back to the KHL.

"The NHL doesn't need him anyway, because he's a typical Russian player - just here for the money."

Gabe Karlik said he was excited to hear Tootoo signed with Detroit.

He said Detroit is a good organization with great ownership and a real family mentality, and that's good for Tootoo.

"I really thought Jordin would sign with Detroit, Florida or Edmonton, if the Oilers made an offer," said Karlik.

"I didn't really find his signing with Nashville's main rival that strange because we've seen it before in sports with other teams.

"In baseball, Johnny Damon left the Red Sox to sign with the N.Y. Yankees, and Jason Giambi left the Oakland Athletics after their Moneyball year, when they won 20 straight games, to also sign with the rival Yankees."

Karlik said he expects Predators fans to cheer for Tootoo during his first return to Nashville, but, after that, all bets are off.

He said the tables will probably turn on Tootoo early in the year.

"It will be a different story after about the third game against Nashville because of the way Jordin plays.

"They'll start booing him after he really hits someone, maybe as early as the first game if he goes after (Pekka) Rinne.

"But, Jordin's going to be a good fit in Detroit, maybe even being a regular on the third line.

"Detroit was missing someone who can bang and agitate, and they'll have that now in Jordin and bringing (Mikael) Samuellson back."

Steven Maktar and his family are known to be among the biggest Detroit Red Wings fans in the Kivalliq.

Almost the entire family proudly displays the Detroit insignia on their parkas during Rankin's winter months.

Maktar said he was happy and excited when he first heard the news of Tootoo's signing with Detroit.

He said it's pretty cool to know Tootoo will be playing with his favourite team during the next three NHL seasons.

"One thing, for sure, I expect to see a whole lot more Detroit flags, jerseys and logos in Rankin Inlet, and that makes me very happy," said Maktar.

"There hasn't been many around, but that's probably going to change now."

Maktar said Detroit is still strong enough to seriously compete for the Stanley Cup again this coming season.

He said the Red Wings are a stronger team with Tootoo in the lineup, and he has a real chance of getting his name on hockey's holy grail with Detroit.

"I watch a lot of Red Wings games during the season and it's going to be even more fun with Jordin playing there.

"He can play on any line and he's going to bring a lot to Detroit.

"Jordin's still young and fast, and he'll bring a lot more energy to their lineup.

"They (Detroit) have also lacked a little toughness the past two years and we all know Jordin will help them there too."

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