Here in Sweden, reports about Jonas Junland returning to Swedish hockey is not focused on him leaving North America, it's about what team he's signed on with. Farjestads BK, with whom Jonas has signed $330 000/1 year contract (these are my own calculations, based on a report that Junland would be paid 200 000 Swedish kronor/month in Farjestad, so this could be inacurate, don't know if there was any sign-on bonus, but there probably was), is the most successful Swedish hockey team in recent years. They always put a competitive team on the ice and is generally a very well respected team. A good team to play for, especially since they're in need of a player like Jonas Junland and he'll get significant ice time in crucial situations.
Sounds good, no? So why the controversy? Well, Jonas is a product of Linkopings HC, the only team he's ever played for over here, both in juniors and seniors. LHC is also a top tier team in the Swedish Elite League, and they claim that they were ready to offer Jonas as much as or more than any other team in the league. Over here, where you've played before means alot, especially for the fans. Here's an article from today's issue of Aftonbladet, Swedens biggest newspaper. My own translation, of course.
Junland threatened after Linkopings protest
Jonas Junland rejected his motherclub to play for Farjestad.
LHC protest against his choice in a letter published on their website and the 22-year old has recieved several threats from enraged fans.
--People don't think that I should be able to walk the streets safely any more, Junland says.
Jonas Junland has played for Linkoping since he was a child. The news about him chosing to play for the rival Farjestad after a couple of failed years in the NHL therefore came as a total surprise.
Linkoping management decided to put up extra resources to get Junland home, and to match any and every Swedish bids on the defenseman. Despite that, Junland chose Farestad and his motherclub is now very upset.
"This situation is new for LHC and we are well aware of the fact that there could be other reasons than economic ones volved, but what's absolutely clear is that we in Linkopings Hockey Club are very dissapointed in Jonas Junlands choice of club." the team writes on their web site.
After the signing became public and LHC published the letter Jonas Junland has recieved several threats.
--I have gotten a message here and tere, but that's what you can expect when you make controversial decisions. But there's also been some less than smart comments from people who doesn't think I should be able to walk the streets in Linkoping safely any more, Junland says.
The 22-year old also says that he thinks that LHC's letter can have fired up the feelings even more.
--I don't want to talk about Linkoping any more. They are the past and Farjestad is the future. But perhaps that letter doesn't help much.
How is your relation to LHC?
--So far it's fine. But after this, who can tell?
LHC's vice president Anders Mäki is the one who published the letter. He says that club management discussed the fact that Junland could recieve threats if and when they'd publish the letter.
--We talked about that some. But this is a new situation for us and we have to take care of the players we've developed. It's not surprisig that we feel dissapointed over his choice of club.
What's your take on the threats Jonas has recieved?
--I have no comments about that.
What everyone has failed to point out is that LHC already has a go-to guy in power play situations, Magnus Johansson, considered to be the top point man in the Swedish Elite League. Johansson plays lots of minutes, which could be a reason why Junland chose Farjestad. There, he could be the No 1 guy, and still play for a top club. I personally think that Jonas Junland, by signing with Farjestad, shows everyone that if he can't get significant NHL time, he wants to win games, and further develop his play in a top club.
Good for him.