Fans in Edmonton have probably heard all they want to hear about once promising Finnish forward Jesse Puljujarvi. It is no longer any secret that the Edmonton Oilers first round pick (4th overall) at the 2016 National Hockey League Entry Draft no longer wants to be a part of that organization, going so far as to push for a trade through his agent.
Throughout Puljujarvi frustrating career we have heard all kinds of rumors regarding why he has struggled to reach the form he once showed as a prospect, but many have been quite happy to lay all the blame at the feet of the Edmonton Oilers organization. Now to be fair I can hardly blame anyone who takes this approach given how the Oilers have handled some of their top tier prospects in recent years, however there definitely seems to be more to this problem than mere mismanagement from the Oilers.
For one both Todd McLellan and Ken Hitchcock, both former head coaches in Edmonton, tried to unlock Puljujarvi's potential during their respective tenures in Edmonton, and both men appeared to fail miserably at the task. This is not meant to be a criticism of either man but rather of Puljujarvi, if two coaches with that much experience can't get through to the young man then can anyone?
The one word that has followed Puljujarvi throughout his career has been "stubborn" and it seems like that may be one of the central issues with the young man's demeanor at this point. In a recent article for The Edmonton Journal Oilers reporter Kurt Leavins revealed that another one of Jesse Puljujarvi's problems, his inability to speak fluent English, may have been another casualty of the young man's stubborn streak.
Through an on-line translation, Puljujarvi is roughly quoted as saying that the language has been a challenge for him. He would like to speak better English and agreed that it has been one of several “small things (that) went wrong”. He likely regrets how he handled English lessons originally organized by the club. It has been widely reported that the team did not take this step. But I in fact am told that was not true at all. Instead, I am made to understand that Puljujarvi was aware of the lessons but “blew them off”.
That would certainly make it considerably harder to communicate with the coaching staff and could explain, at least in part, why both McLellan and Hitchcock struggle so mightily to reach the young man. It seems obvious by now that Puljujarvi wants out of Edmonton, and given all that has come out about his attitude behind the scenes I have to wonder if the Oilers themselves might not breath a sigh of relief when he's finally gone. I strongly suspect their fans will.