Who is the biggest companion legend of the Flies? Is it Kari Jalonen, Kai Suikkanen or Reijo Ruotsalainen? Or maybe Lasse Kukkonen?
This question is certainly the most debated topic on the terraces of Oulu during the long summer break. If you think purely about game skills, Jalonen and the Swede are definitely at the top of the list. Their virtuosity on the ice was prime.
But when it comes to the importance of the individual to the community, the only correct answer is Lasse Kukkonen. He is the embodiment of follower identity and commitment in Fly.
Kukkonen had the ability to coach in the middle of the game and eat discs in the next shift on behalf of the team. In the intervening days, he entertained the main sponsors and answered the silly questions of the journalists after the defeat of the seventh final, even though he boiled inside.
Kukkonen’s ability to always put the worries of others before his own is something as pure as it can be in top sports. And he didn’t complain about his part, even though every spring the under-eye eyes were getting darker.
That is why Kukkonen is, and probably always will be, an all-time player at Oulu Kärpi.
Statements about the management of the Oulu club are a lot of talk.
Harri Aho, Kärppie's sports director, teammate 1999–2002: “Kukkonen is the most selfless team player I know. Leadership is so born in him ”.
Mikko Manner, the head coach of the flies: “He has revolutionized the lives of quite a few people. He always highlighted those players who were in smaller roles ”.
Juha Junno, ex-CEO of Kärppie: “The greatness of Kukkonen is that he can sense and see things in the locker room that others cannot see”.