November 23, 2015

Jonas Bergqvist

Jonas Bergvist only played briefly in the NHL - 22 games with Calgary in 1989-90. He is far better known for playing 272 games with the Swedish national team - once a record. He played in nine world championships (winning gold in 1987, 1991, and 1998), three Canada Cups/World Cups and three Olympics (1998, 1992 and 1994 where he won gold).

Jonas was born in Angelholm in tge south of Sweden. He moved to Leksand as a 15 year old and played his entire Swedish career with this famous club, totalling of 575 games.

Jonas was drafted at a relatively late age. He was 26 when Calgary drafted him 126th overall in 1988. He had played in the 1987 Canada Cup and 1988 Olympics (in Calgary). The scouts in Calgary liked what they saw. They approached him just before the 1989 world championships in Stockholm 1989.

Jonas misfortune was that Calgary won the Stanley Cup that same season so it was pretty tough to take a regular spot on the team. Jonas never quite caught on in Calgary and only played 22 games, scoring 7 points (2 goals and 5 assists).

" My fondest memory in Calgary were the two games when I played on the same line together with Jiri Hrdina and Sergei Makarov," Jonas said

Jonas had met them many times before in international competitions when Hrdina played for Czechoslovakia and Makarov for Soviet Union. They understood each other very well on the ice but the coach (Terry Crisp) broke up the line almost immediately.

Just prior to the playoffs Jonas was sent down to Salt Lake (IHL) for conditioning purposes. He scored 16 points in 13 games and was really pumped to play in the playoffs for Calgary. Coach Terry Crisp said that Jonas would play in the last two regular season games so that he would be ready for the playoffs.

But just as Jonas was getting ready for one of these games, Terry walked up to him and told him that he didn't have to bother changing, that he will play in the next game instead. There never was a 'next game' for Jonas in Calgary.

He was very disappointed after this. Jonas felt that he was no rookie anymore, he had played his share of competitive hockey in his career and deserved a chance, but he soon found out that you can never take anything for granted in this business.

Despite this Jonas always said that he and his wife thoroughly enjoyed his time in both Calgary and Salt Lake. The only thing he was disappointed in was how he felt the coach had treated him. In Salt Lake he had a pretty good time as well.

"It was fun, both on and off the ice. We had about 11,000 people on our games. The minor leagues is much better than most people think."

But when Olle Ost, a Swedish coach for the German team Mannheim phoned Jonas and asked him to come and play in Germany, Jonas jumped on the offer. Calgary wanted him to stay but Jonas wanted to play, and besides, the money in Germany were pretty good.

"Economically it was a similar deal. But you can't compare German hockey to NHL. These are two different worlds. The players, the arenas and the organization were far worse than in Canada and Sweden."

Jonas only stayed for one year in Mannheim.

"It was okay, but socially we (Jonas and his wife) had it better in Calgary. Foremost it was the language that caused us problems. We weren't too good at speaking German so there were a few barriers, like watching TV (All foreign programs dubbed to German) and socializing with people."

Jonas went back to Leksand in the Swedish elite league where he played until 1998. He finished his career in Austria where he played for VEU Feldkirch 1998-99. After that he returned to Leksand where he became the teams GM.

Though his NHL career never took off he is considered to be one of the steadiest performers of the 1980's and 90's in all of Swedish hockey. Jonas was voted the Swedish player of the year in 1996. He won the Olympic gold in 1994 and is a three time world champion. Coaches who nominated him to the national team for tournaments like the Olympics, Canada Cups and world championships knew that Jonas would always work hard and that personal accomplishments never meant anything to him. He always played for the team and that's why he lasted a record 272 times in the Swedish jersey.

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