Swede outspoken in home press

By Peter Westermark
Europeans know exactly what to say when they´re talking to the North
American press. Well, maybe Vaclav Prospal should sometimes choose his words
more carefully, but most europeans offer the clichés that are expected from
them. Read the press in their home country and it´s a different story.
Anaheim Mighty Ducks forward Jonas Rönnqvist´s comments in the Swedish press
after being dispatched to the minors was anything but clichés as he
criticized the team.

He was quoted in the Aftonbladet as saying ”I´ve been forced to play with a
knee injury. It´s sick, I can´t play up to my capacity.”
Rönnqvist was also
quoted in the article as saying that the team should have brought up someone
from the farm team to replace him while he nursed his injury, but that it
was a question of the team not wanting to spend any extra money.

Now, compare Rönnqvist´s comments with Eric Lindros´ infamous comments about
the Flyers´ medical staff. There´s not that much difference, right ? Of
course, one has to take the difference in stature between the two players
into consideration. Lindros was a superstar captain and Rönnqvist is a depth
player, so it´s not front page news, but Anaheim General Manager Pierre
Gauthier will nevertheless be less than amused to read such comments about
the organization. If he ever gets to read them that is.

The former Luleå star isn´t the first Swede to come out criticizing their
NHL club in the Swedish press. This can to a large extent be attributed to
the difference in the culture in which players are developed. Especially
players who have reached the NHL after playing in Major Junior hockey are
used to doing everything possible to grab hold of their spot on the team
knowing that they could easily get replaced if they don´t.

Swedes, on the other hand, have job security both through their junior years
and later in senior hockey. If a player gets injured, he will retain his
place on the team because Swedish clubs do not have farm teams and hence do
not have any new players to call up other than the club´s own juniors.

The constant battling in Major Junior not only breeds a level of toughness
in the Canadian players that Swedes are unlikely to ever attain, but also a
different kind of approach to team loyalty. Playing through injury is not
pleasant. Comments on the subject by Canadian players portrays an image of
something that they have to endure because it is their obligation to the
team. Swedes seem to think the other way around, that the team has an
obligation to them.

Both points are actually accurate, and they do not have to contradict each
other. For a team to be successful, the players have to be loyal to the team
but the team must also give it´s players fair treatment.

You judge if Rönnqvist´s comments was loyal to the team or not.

In the new global NHL, there is still much that distinguishes the European
style from the North American. Jonas Rönnqvist is beginning to find that
out.

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