August 18, 2013

Lars Jonsson Retires Due To Arthritis

I really have no idea if old hockey players are more susceptible to arthritis than the rest of the population, but I did find this headline a bit odd.

Aside from Johnny Bower famously playing through arthritis, I never heard of a player actually retiring specifically because of the ailment.

Lars Jonsson, a 6'2" 205lb defenseman out of Leksands in Sweden, was at one time considered to be a very good NHL prospect. The Boston Bruins drafted him 7th overall in the rather weak 2000 NHL Entry Draft, but were never able to sign him. Jonsson opted to remain in Sweden for several seasons.

In 2006 Jonsson was declared an Unrestricted Free Agent and immediately signed with the Philadelphia Flyers. General Manager Bobby Clarke described Jonsson as "a very interesting player with very good potential. He is a really good skater, good with the puck and a good two-way player."

Maybe so, but Jonsson never stuck with the Flyers. He played two seasons with the Flyers AHL farm team and was called up for an 8 game stretch in 2006-07. With 2 assists and 6 penalty minutes on his record, those would be the only 8 games of his NHL career.

In 2008 he returned to Sweden and played a solid role with Byrnas. However he suffered from rheumatoid arthritis that kept him off the ice for increasing periods of time. His last game was played in 2011 even though he didn't announce his retirement until the summer of 2013.

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