Jesse Joensuu's first NHL game in nearly two years on Saturday felt "weird,'' as he put it, being that he was returning at the tail end of this shortened season after sports hernia surgery.
But the forward still is excited to have a home with the Isles, two years after he left for Europe under less-than- pleasant circumstances.
"I feel like on every level, as a human being, as an athlete, I've become better,'' said Joensuu, who was back in the lineup again Tuesday, with Anders Lee a healthy scratch. "When I left for Europe, I realized that my dream of playing in the NHL could be gone, and as I played there [in Sweden in 2011-12], I realized I still wanted to be here.''
Joensuu said his weight hasn't changed from when he was initially here from 2007-2011, but he has changed his diet and workout routine. He had eight shots Saturday.
"It was a rocky relationship we had before he left,'' said Jack Capuano, who coached Joensuu in Bridgeport for four seasons. "He had a different perception of his game than we did. But I'm proud of him. It took him a little longer to understand what his role could be, but he knows.''