In what was the most surprising move this summer, we saw Toni Rajala released from his Edmonton Oilers contract. No real explanation, no real warning, just out of the blue and sudden. Many first thoughts were that the Oilers were making room for another contract, or that they didn’t feel he was going to work in the new system and decided to just release him outright. But after a great season in the American Hockey League, scoring 45 points in 46 games with the Oklahoma City Barons, it seemed a very odd move to let a player like that go for nothing in return.
It’s been of great interest to me where Rajala was going to end up. There were many rumors that he was going back home to play for Ilves of the Finnish Liiga, or perhaps following Teemu Hartikainen to Russia and the KHL. Both of those rumors haven’t panned out though, and as we sit a week into the NHL and AHL seasons and about a month into all of Europe’s hockey seasons, Rajala still remains unsigned. I’ve been keeping an eye on Twitter and other outlets, just seeing if I could find out where he was heading, if there was any indication of where he was going to play, anything. Last night, I happened about this tweet.
— Ari-Matias Angeria (@amangeria) October 8, 2013
Obviously in Finnish, even Google Translator was puzzled as to what Rajala’s response was. Thankfully, Patricia Teter enlisted the help of Arto Palovaara – chief writer of The Lion Chronicle, which provides hockey news from Finland and the Liiga in English form – and he was kind enough to translate the tweet for us.
@Artful_Puck rajala was caught by a wee lad in the hall that asked him why he's not playing. He replied "I'm not just playing".
— Arto Palovaara (@ArtoPalovaara) October 9, 2013
With a response like that, you have to wonder if there isn’t something bigger than hockey going on right now for Rajala. With how quick and sudden the release was from Edmonton, it would certainly make sense. Regardless of the circumstances, Toni is a great player. I certainly hope that we’ll see him back on the ice soon, rather than later.