Leeds United fan signs for Sheffield Steelers (indoctrination required)
A Swedish ice hockey veteran's love for Leeds United has convinced him to sign for their nearest Elite League club - Sheffield Steelers.
The player’s Scandinavian agent checked on the proximity of Leeds to Sheffield before the deal was pushed through.
And while Jonas Westerling will be preparing for evening matches on weekends for his new employers, he will get to see his Elland Road heroes in midweek.
Westerling, at 35, is the Play Off champions’ second veteran signing this week; they have also landed 33-year-Canadian defencemen Mark Matheson.
Westerling, who is only 5ft 7ins, arrives from the Allsvenskan side Södertälje.
Described as a centre or a winger “with excellent offensive instincts...a terrific passer and stick-handler” he is not a big scorer - in fact he’s found the net 19 times in his last four seasons (191 games.)
Assistant coach Jerry Andersson has watched Westerling throughout a career spent exclusively in Sweden, so far. “Our fans will enjoy Westerling” he said. “He will excite and create. The players on his line will enjoy his skill set and benefit from his smart plays. He is an excellent addition who will help make us better.”
The sentiment was echoed by head coach Paul Thompson, who coached against left-shot Westerling in Mora when he was with the Troja team back in 2013-14. “He is very comfortable on the puck and has an incredible skill set” he said.
“I think that Jonas will elevate our power-play. He is a crafty player. He makes smart plays and has a great shot. He isn’t afraid to go into the hard areas. We also have flexibility with him being as happy in the middle or on the wing. Again that gives me options which is something every head coach likes.
“I think a little like Freddie Vestberg, he has had an outstanding career over in the Allsvenskan (second flight) where he played 655 games (374 pts) and now wants to try something new and different.”
Thompson added: “He is very hungry for success which is always important to me when recruiting new players.”