There's a sense of mystery that surrounds Janne Pesonen, perhaps even a sense of wonder. The gold helmet? That's there to remind you he's a scoring champ. The excessive ads? That's there to remind you that other leagues throughout the world believe in generating revenue through sponsorships. But whatever it is fans are thinking, it all comes down to one, bare bones question: Who is he and why is he here?
Penguins GM Ray Shero admittedly said he's never seen Pesonen play. Sounds a bit bizarre, huh? Well that's because Shero apparently didn't have to. Not with assistant GM Paul Fletcher on hand.
Fletcher worked for the Anaheim Ducks as assistant GM from 2002-2006. The Ducks drafted Pesonen in the ninth round back in 2004, 269th overall. Pesonen admits Anaheim was not for him. Having never played a game in the NHL, Fletcher was still able to talk Ray Shero into giving him a shot.
"He's not an 18- or 19-year-old kid trying to find his way," Fletcher said of Pesonen, 26. "There's not a lot of risk because, clearly, he has the skill to be successful (in the NHL). I've thought that for a long time, and talking to Janne, he's ready for the challenge of proving himself against top competition."
Michel Therrien is banking a lot on Pesonen's presence in preseason games. The concept of potentially sending him down to the WBS squad for a few games is not entirely out of the question either. But even Pesonen isn't again the idea.
"Whatever it takes," said Pesonen, who need not clear waivers to play in the AHL. "I want to win games and be at a top level. If it's not open in the beginning of the season, maybe it's open a little bit later."
Keep in mind this guy was a playoff MVP last season, and scored 34 goals and 44 assists on the season. If there's anything he'll have to adjust to, I'm thinking it's the width of the ice. Even NHLers who play on the international level say that is the hardest thing to adapt to again after spending so much time in the league. Perhaps the same came be said for those coming across the pond as well.