(Denver) Jack Johnson’s story is like the classic LMDS: a beautiful novel, a beautiful story*.
Posted at 6 am.
Financially betrayed by his parents eight years ago, present at Colorado Avalanche camp simply by invitation, he finally got a season contract, played his 1000and game during said season, reached the second round of the playoffs for the first time in his career and is now playing in the finals.
This course earned him Avalanche’s nomination for the Bill-Masterton Trophy this season.
He added a layer to that story on Saturday when the veteran defender simply revealed at a news conference that he had just graduated from the University of Michigan. At 35 years old. But most of all, 15 years after leaving Iggy Pop’s alma mater.
“It took me what, 18 years? Most people are doctors after so many years of study! joked the burly defender. In seasons when my team didn’t make the playoffs, I signed up for the spring session remotely. I also took advantage of the pandemic to take online courses that were normally offered on campus. »
It is in general studies (General Studies) that Johnson graduated from. For him, it was a matter of pride. He arrived at college in 2005, aged 18, before leaving school in 2007 to sign a contract with the Los Angeles Kings.
“I dreamed of playing hockey at the University of Michigan and wanted to graduate from this school. It is the highest ranked public university in the country. When I left school, I promised Red Berenson [l’entraîneur-chef à l’époque] that I was going to finish my studies and I called him as soon as I finished. »
against a current
This good old Berenson, who played for the Canadiens in the 1960s, is now officially retired, although he remains active in hockey as a consultant for the Wolverines but also the Big Ten conference.
“In 2007, when we were eliminated, Jack left for Los Angeles, recalls the 82-year-old on the phone. He told me, “I think it’s time to go.” I understood very well, I was not disappointed or angry. But he called me back 15 years later to tell me he had kept his promise. »
He knew it was important to me, but also to him.
Red Berenson, Jack Johnson’s Coach at the University of Michigan
What especially impresses Berenson is the 18-year-old’s independence of mind at the time. Is that Johnson was the 3and overall pick in 2005, two places behind Sidney Crosby, two places ahead of Carey Price.
“He was a very important prospect in the draft, and a lot of teams were telling him not to go to school,” recalls Berenson. He could have been drafted in 2and ranking by the Ducks, but Brian Burke asked him to come directly to Anaheim. So they took Bobby Ryan. From the start, he had to go against the grain and make choices that weren’t always popular with elite players.
“It allowed him to mature, develop and become a popular teammate. When he played his 1000and this season, several of his teammates came to Denver to watch the game. He made lifelong friends there. »
“I finally spent the best years of my life there,” Johnson confirmed Saturday.
For Berenson, it’s simply a beautiful story of perseverance, for a player who has had his share of hardships off the ice due to conflict with his parents.
“He was fascinated by the school. I knew him from birth. He was a friend from college, his parents lived in the area. As soon as he turned professional, he started taking summer courses. I won’t say he’s a student who could have gone to an Ivy League college, but he wanted to. Despite COVID-19, despite the family situation, he persevered. »
* This is a joke. Before submitting a complaint to the FPJQ, please be aware that the author of these lines is aware that this is a work by Michel Fugain and the Big Bazar.