The Monster… Perhaps he is at times between the pipes, but he most certainly is a monster when off the ice… or has a monstrous heart, anyway. Jonas Gustavsson’s story could be seen in two ways. It could be seen as a story of heartbreak followed by heartbreak, or it could be seen as a story of incredible triumph over incredible strife.
When watching young players on draft day, who is it that they turn to first upon being drafted? Mom or Dad. Sadly, Jonas didn’t have that option as his father had passed away when Jonas was 21 years old from a blood disorder, leaving his family undoubtedly devastated. Then, during the time he was being scouted out by several NHL teams, Jonas lost his mother to a chronic lung disease. So Gustavsson began his journey to a new country, a new language, a new way of life without the support of the people who meant the most to him.
As if that weren’t enough, just as Gustavsson had managed to move on and begin his career in the NHL, he experienced symptoms of what would prove to be a frustrating condition for Jonas. During the first week of training camp, Gustavsson had to undergo the first of what would be three heart ablation surgeries.
So who would blame this guy if he had a sour disposition and negative outlook on life? With that many knocks against him, it would be truly hard to stand up again and fight. But that’s just what Gustavsson has done, time after time. Despite losing both parents at such a young age, he took on the world just as he would have if they were here. And though his doctors say his heart issues could return, when some athletes might decide, after a three-peat of struggles, that it’s time to hang it up and throw in the towel, he refuses and continues giving it his all night after night.
Maybe all of the trials Jonas has faced in his life have made him into the real-life monster of a man he has become. “Maybe that’s something that helps me in hockey, too,” Gustavsson said. “I know there’s other things in life and there’s tougher losses than just one game, so if you can come back from that, you can come back from a lost game.” (x)