The Fraternity - Alumni Reunited

Being a Sound Tiger fan pays huge dividends. Quality professional hockey games, a state of the art facility at the Webster Bank Arena, and a unique fan experience top the list. Become a season ticket holder and the entire experience gets ramped up exponentially with all the perks available. Join the booster club and you will be given the opportunity to meet and perhaps befriend these young and future stars.      

(Jesse Joensuu, Robin Figren/Daniel Wegren) There is a dark side to this happy scenario, which can oft times be painful. As a developmental team, players are rarely here for more than 3 seasons; so saying goodbye to a friend becomes part of the equation. Sadly, Jesse Joensuu and Robin Figren are two friends that did not return this season.

The first time I met Jesse was at the grocery store where my manager Frank Danielle and I were building a display. Looking as though he needed help finding something I offered my assistance. “I’m looking for fried onions that my mom uses to make a dish”. He answered in perfect English. What kind of dish I asked and he said “I’m from Finland, and not sure how to describe it”.

It was early November 2008 and although the season was young I had seen enough games to realize I was talking to Jesse Jonensuu. ‘Hi Jesse my name is Mike and this is my manager Frank. Jesse is a new addition to the Sound Tigers." I told my boss, and then gave me a decent description of Jesse’s pedigree. Either embarrassed or impressed Jesse thanked me, found his Durkee fried onions in aisle seven and left. We would become friends.

Jesse was the Islanders 2nd round pick in the 2006 draft. The first pick that year went to Kyle Okposo, who was taken 7th overall. Also selected that year-70th Robin Figren, 100th Rhett Rakhshani, and 160th Andrew MacDonald. Jesse had numbers good enough (20 goals and 19 assists) to get a 7 game look with the Isles in 2009. The next season he saw 11 games on the isles and in the final year of this 3 years entry-level contract he played 42 games in ‘The Bigs’. Each season at his exit interview, Jesse was told to work on becoming a more physical presence. Matt Martin started in the 2009-10 season and was given the same advice. Martin is here, Jesse has returned to Europe.

When I talked to Jesse about his leaving his answer spoke volumes. ‘Since I was a little kid all I wanted to do was play in the NHL. You know what Mike? I did’.

Robin Figren is one of the most gifted skaters I have had the privilege to watch. He is also one of the nicest people you could ever want to meet. Robin is of the rare breed of people who when they ask you, how are you doing?... actually gives a poop about your answer.

On one particular evening I reminded Figgy with awe of a 360-spin move he had made the night before spinning in the corner and providing a perfect pass to the crease. He leaned in close and said, “you know why I did that Mike? I did it for you. I did it for all of you in the arena”.Robin never got the call.  While he never got to realize his dream, his gifts to all of us in the arena won’t be forgotten.  

On December 10, 2011 these two friends and former teammates faced each other in the Swedish Elite League Outdoor Classic. The game was played at the Elmia Outdoor Arena in David Ullstrom’s hometown of Jonokoping, Sweden. Once again Jesse would get a leg up on Figgy as his team won the game 1-0 in overtime. Friends and fraternity brothers. 

 

-Mike Flannery


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