Ex-Oilers Forward Jesse Puljujarvi Is A Spoiled Ingrate

Apr 11, 2023; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Hurricanes right wing Jesse Puljujarvi (13) skates with the puck against the Detroit Red Wings during the second period at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 11, 2023; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; Carolina Hurricanes right wing Jesse Puljujarvi (13) skates with the puck against the Detroit Red Wings during the second period at PNC Arena. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jesse Puljujarvi, since the trade to Carolina, made a rather tone-deaf statement to his friend Sebastian Aho – I can’t for the life of me find a real source on this but he said that playing for the Oilers “ruined” and “traumatized” him.

I thought Puljujarvi had grown up and matured past that lack of personal responsibility for his career…..apparently not.

This is very much revisionist history when it comes to Puljujarvi’s career here.

Did the Oilers keep him up for too long here in his rookie season? Arguably yes. But he was a high-ranking draft pick, the GM and coach of the day probably wanted to see if making him a healthy scratch and playing him on lower lines would help him out – those are standard tactics when it comes to struggling players. NHL teams consistently try putting the player with different teammates, cutting ice time, changing roles, healthy scratching, and trying him on different lines before sending him down to the AHL or trading him.

But that’s where the organization’s fault if any in this situation, stops. Everything else that happened after Puljujarvi’s rookie season was his own fault, and he seems too oblivious to see it.

After that comes reports that Puljujarvi was blowing off the English lessons the team provided for him. Conveniently, this is missing from Puljujarvi’s narrative of the Oilers “ruining” him. After all, it would only be common sense that after getting settled in a place to live and getting all his stuff moved over, getting everything he would need to live in Edmonton that the next step would be to learn English.

After all, it’s no secret that Canada is a predominantly English-speaking country, especially in Edmonton. Yes, French is spoken in Quebec and in small pockets around the rest of the country but by and large Canada is an English-speaking country. Even when you travel to Quebec – I myself travelled to Montreal just last year to train for a job – anyone working in tourism or the service industries is bilingual because they are well aware that English is the international language of business. I’ve also been to Quebec City, and although the expression on their faces protest more than they do in Montreal, they do by and large speak English as well because if you want those tourist dollars that’s what you do, and they know that.

Thus, there’s no excuse for Puljujarvi to blow off the English lessons that were provided for him. After all, if anyone were going to move to Russia wouldn’t you expect that you’d have to learn Russian? If you were moving to Italy wouldn’t you expect to have to learn Italian? How about learning to speak German if you move to Germany? You get the idea.

This situation is no different. Puljujarvi should’ve been well aware he was moving to an English-speaking part of Canada and would be travelling around to English-speaking parts of Canada and the US, so naturally you shouldn’t delay in learning English. Is it reasonable to ask your coach and GM and teammates to learn Finnish so they can speak to you? No, not at all. It’s more reasonable for him to learn English.

What did he expect would happen with such a big language barrier? This naturally created a barrier to coaching and interaction among his teammates. Puljujarvi can claim loneliness and lack of support all he wants, but if he had taken the English language lessons provided to him there wouldn’t have been a language barrier and he would’ve had the support he needed.

Then there was the constant meddling from his agent Markus Lehto. I can’t find links for this, but throughout his Oilers career, at various times his agent demanded that Puljujarvi be played in the top six forward groups as well as be given more minutes and when he got called up from Bakersfield because “if he had more minutes he’d produce more.” If that were my agent I’d fire him right then and there. It’s not the agent’s job to meddle in the team’s affairs or dictate how many minutes the player gets or where he plays.

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In the NHL, you earn your ice time, so it’s a well-known fact you start in the bottom six and work your way up to the top six when your play warrants it. I have a feeling it’s like that in the Finnish pro leagues too, only the players aren’t as good as the NHL is so it’s easier to play there. Nonetheless, over the years Puljujarvi got plenty of ice time and ample opportunity with both Connor Mcdavid and Leon Draisaitl and he bungled every single opportunity.

Whether it was due to injury, sheltering rookies, or the various head coaches since 2016 experimenting, Puljujarvi got ample ice time in the top six and yet he was never able to produce there – at least not on any consistent basis. So that request from his agent never held water at any point in Puljujarvi’s career.

If Lehto had called me and I was Ken Holland, I would’ve told him “butt the f*** out” and hung up on Lehto. That may burn your bridges with the player, but at this point, it’s worthwhile asking “What player?”

Lehto should’ve had more common sense than to coddle a struggling player who doesn’t seem to want to do what’s necessary to succeed. He should’ve given him a kick in the butt, not coddled him. After all, if Puljujarvi had properly learned English and paid his dues we probably wouldn’t be having this conversation – or at the very least there wouldn’t be nearly as much drama attached to it.

It doesn’t seem like Puljujarvi took or solicited feedback from his coaches either at any point.

This is also conveniently missing from Puljujarvi’s narrative of the Oilers”ruining” him.

As a result, even after this trade, Puljujarvi’s NHL career is hanging on by a thread. The fact that Puljujarvi only has a mere two assists in 16 games since the trade with Carolina seems to validate the fact that all the career struggles are largely the player’s fault, not the team’s. After all, if you go to another team and struggle just as badly then the common denominator is the player, so that’s who you point the finger at.

After this season the best Puljujarvi can hope for is an NHL minimum two-way contract – and most likely he’s headed back to Finland as an NHL failure. He isn’t the first draft bust and he won’t be the last. But there haven’t been many draft picks with this immaturity, baggage, and drama.