By Michael Caples –
TROY – While many of his new teammates were skating just a few feet away, new Red Wings goaltender Jonas Gustavsson was modeling his new pads for Warrior Hockey.
The netminder, brought in to serve as the new back-up to Jimmy Howard, was assisting the Warren-based hockey company with a photo shoot yesterday to promote their new goaltending equipment at the Troy Sports Center. Gustavsson modeled current and new equipment, both for photos and videos.
The goalie nicknamed “The Monster” is still in the process of settling into Hockeytown, but he said everything has been going well so far.
“So far, so good,” Gustavsson said. “We’ve got a house, we haven’t been able to move in yet, but I’ve been here a few times now, getting to know the city. So far it’s only been great, I’m really excited about it.”
Gustavsson is hoping the transition in the professional environment goes just as well. After being a highly sought-after free agent, the Maple Leafs brought him to the NHL in 2009. During his three years with the Original 6 club, Gustavsson held a record of 39-45-15, playing with a Maple Leafs squad in the midst of a roster overhaul. The Monster posted five shutouts while in Toronto, along with a .900 save percentage and 2.98 goals-against average. Those numbers could change, however, now that he calls Detroit home.
“Being part of a team like Detroit, with all the history, it doesn’t matter what year you go back to, they always have a good team,” Gustavsson said. “Hopefully they will for many years to come. I’m just honored to be a part of it. There are so many guys with so much information to give me here, I can learn so much, and a lot of great guys too.
“I haven’t met all of them, but I know a lot of them, pretty much all the Swedes, and they’re all good guys. I’m sure the other guys are as good of guys as those. The organization is great. I’m getting to know the city, and so far I really like it, so there’s only positives so far.”
He is quite familiar with Niklas Kronwall, who will be the top defenseman in front of Gustavsson this season. The goaltender said he has been training with the hard-hitting defenseman over the summer.
“I’ve played with pretty much all of [the Swedes] in the Olympics and World Championships and stuff like that,” Gustavsson said, “but I think Kronwall is the guy that I’ve probably seen most because he’s in Stockholm all the time, and that’s where I’m from too. This summer we’ve been working out on the ice together for a few weeks, so that’s probably the guy that I’ve been talking most to, so far.”
He has not spoken to his new crease partner, however. Gustavsson said he knows Jimmy Howard will be back in town soon, and is hoping to speak with him then.
In the meantime, Gustavsson will continue to adjust to his surroundings, and his new Warrior pads. He said that the photo shoot he was a part of was something he doesn’t mind doing.
“It’s been going great today,” Gustavsson said. “The Warrior guys are always good to me. Coming here and doing the photo shoot is fun, so it’s been a good day so far.
“If it doesn’t sound good, I don’t take it too hard. I’m Swedish, if it doesn’t sound really good, I can take it, it’s all fine by me. As long as they’re happy with it, I’m happy with it.”