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Axel Jonsson-Fjällby’s Hair Is a Media Sensation
Perhaps no player turned more heads at this year’s Capitals Development Camp than Axel Jonsson-Fjällby. The 20 year-old Swedish forward is among the handful of the camp’s attendees who have a legitimate chance at cracking the Capitals lineup next season.
What grabbed the attention of the masses, however, did not take place on the ice. It took place on his head.
— HockeyKot (@hockeykot) June 26, 2018
Jonsson-Fjällby’s flowing locks are nothing new. Caps fans have seen them at each Development Camp since the team selected him in the 5th round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. But as his first full season in North America approaches, talk of Jonsson-Fjällby’s hair always seems to find a way into any talk of his play.
From his breakout performance at World Juniors:
Based on his name, hair, and how good he is at hockey there’s a case to be made that Axel Jonsson Fjällby is the most Swedish person ever
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) January 6, 2018
To the day he signed his entry-level contract with the Capitals:
Caps have signed Swedish winger Axel Jonsson Fjällby to a three-year entry-level deal that starts next season. He has fantastic hair and also plays hockey well.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) May 2, 2018
Even the most serious, professional hockey writers cannot avoid admiring Jonsson-Fjällby’s salad whenever his name comes up.
Sam Fortier of the Washington Post recently published an article revealing that Jonsson-Fjällby maintains his long cut so he can sport a man bun off the ice. When the news outlet that broke the Watergate Scandal runs a feature on your hair, it is safe to assume it has reached a certain level of notoriety.
Fortier reported that Steve Richmond, the Capitals’ director of player development, refused to comment on Jonsson-Fjällby’s hair. He instead emphasized the young forward’s promise as a player.
Richmond has a point.
Jonsson-Fjällby made a name for himself during the aforementioned 2018 World Junior Championships. Playing on Sweden’s fourth line, Jonsson-Fjällby’s combination of speed and hustle revealed him to be a valuable depth contributor. He finished the tournament with two goals, both shorthanded, and two assists in seven games played.
No joke, Axel Jonsson Fjallby (WSH) has been one of my favorite players to watch in this tournament. Super fast, mudflaps flying out the back of his helmet and makes a lot of smart plays. Speed demon. He's fast, is what I'm trying to say.
— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) January 4, 2018
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) January 4, 2018
Later in the year, Jonsson-Fjällby continued to demonstrate his penchant for showing up in big tournaments. During the SHL playoffs, his eight points in 11 games helped his team Djurgården reach the semifinals. At the time Djurgården was eliminated, Jonsson-Fjällby’s six playoff goals were the second most of any player in the league. As he did with Sweden at World Juniors, Jonsson-Fjällby accomplished this playing mostly on the fourth line.
— Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) March 26, 2018
With the departure of Jay Beagle, the Capitals now have a spot in the bottom six that is up for grabs. Jonsson-Fjällby’s speed, physicality, and proven ability to contribute in a depth role make it quite possible that he will at least get a chance to fill that hole.
The young Swede’s play alone gives people a lot to talk about. But unsurprisingly, the man resembling the love child of Fabio and Prince Charming from Shrek fields questions about his hair quite often. He tends to respond with modesty.
According to Fortier, Jonsson-Fjällby said he does not enjoy his hair on the ice. He maintains the look out of humble dedication to his man bun, not a desire to attract attention and grow his personal brand.
In an interview with Swedish media outlet Aftonbladet during this year’s World Juniors, Jonsson-Fjällby even said his hair looked “really bad” and that he wished he had cut it before the tournament, as translated by Magnus Cadelin of Russian Machine Never Breaks.
Jonsson-Fjällby will likely never shake the reputation his hair brings him unless he opts for the razor. In the NHL, physical appearance can become a central part of even the most talented players’ narratives. Jonsson-Fjällby’s Swedish countrymen Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson can attest to that.
But if he cracks the Capitals lineup and lives up to his potential, his hair will only contribute to his reputation, rather than encompass it.