3 Reasons Jesse Puljujarvi’s “Bison King” Moniker is a Perfect Fit

It wasn’t just a few short seasons ago that fans, insiders, and media were close to writing off Jesse Puljujarvi. A player many had assumed worked his way out of the NHL with a sense of entitlement and some less-than-stellar advice from his agent, today Puljujarvi is very much a part of the Edmonton Oilers core and he’s embracing his new role as The Bison King.

What Is the Bison King?

About a month ago, a photo surfaced online of Puljujarvi out at Elk Island National Park. He was walking his dog when he saw a bison in the trees and wanted to get a closer look. And, to say a closer look is an understatement. He was mere feet away from a very territorial animal who could have done a lot of damage if it had wanted to.

When reporters asked about the experience, he said it was the first time he’d ever seen a bison before. “We went there and went a little walk there; the bison was like 10 meters there. I take a couple pictures with bison. It was funny. The bison was kind, nice bison,” Puljujaviri explained.

The photo went viral and it was amazing the kind of response it received. Immediately, Oilers fans everywhere fell in love with Puljujarvi more than they already had after he started to turn around his career when he returned to the Oilers just ahead of the 2020-21 NHL season. He earned the nickname Bison King and it stuck.

Puljujarvi Fits the Persona in Many Ways

First, Puljujarvi literally took a photo with a bison.

Second, a forward that was once willing to float around the ice surface, during his first run, Puljujarvi hadn’t quite figured out the NHL game. Having scored so much before being drafted, it was possible he believed the league would be easier to navigate. He found out the hard way things weren’t going to come so simply.

Today, he’s playing a completely different game. He’s bullish on offense, he’s dogged on the forecheck and he’s starting to use his big, buffalo-like frame to control any situation.

Ivan Provorov, Jesse Puljujarvi
Edmonton Oilers’ Jesse Puljujarvi, and Philadelphia Flyers’ Ivan Provorov (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Matt Slocum)

Third, according to the National Wildlife Federation’s website, “Bison are constantly on the move and even walk while they eat.” Puljujarvi is constantly on the move in the offensive zone and for fans that recall why he went viral during his first run with the Oilers, it’s because he was pictured walking into the background of a teammates interview while eating a slice of pizza. Talk about a player fitting the defintion of an animal down to the letter.

The best part was that he was completely oblivious and unintentionally loveable at the same time.

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Certain nicknames just fit players. This is one of those instances and this moniker is one of affection and appreciation. It’s well deserved and it’s a tag that makes sense in more ways than one.

The Fans and Puljujarvi: A Love/Love Relationship

The fan base had turned against the winger when he left the organization and his agent had requested a trade. But since returning, those same fans are totally sold that Puljujarvi is a different person. He’s grown up a little (a lot physically) and matured, while also still maintaing those kid-like qualities that make him one of the more adorable players in the league.

His infectious attitude has rubbed off on everyone, including his teammates, many of whom look like they’re just having a blast playing the game. The constant smile on Puljujarvi’s face warms you up to him almost instantly and as the fans who love the Oilers watch him grow, learn the English language and become an impact NHLer, there’s a sense he’s become a part of their lives and they’ve become a part of his.

Look no further than the media availability after the game against the New York Rangers where fans chanted “bison king” while celebrating outside the arena where he could see them. He showed his appreciation by making a heart symbol with his hands and all was right in the world. Zach Hyman was clearly tickeled by the support his teammate was receiving and the Oilers fans seem to feel the same.

It won’t take long before Puljujarvi becomes one of the team’s most popular players and that’s saying a lot when you think about who else plays on this team.

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