Stanley Cup: Extra motivation for Jack Johnson

Winning the Stanley Cup, the biggest dream. Some, probably blessed by the hockey gods, will quickly realize this in their lives. Others will spend an entire, sometimes brilliant, career without even coming close to it. Opportunities being rare, it’s best to take advantage of them when they pass.

At Avalanche Camp, Jack Johnson participates in the Stanley Cup Finals for the first time in his career. Carolina Hurricanes first-round pick (3rd overall) in 2005, the defender could become one of 19 players to win the precious trophy after playing more than 1,000 regular season games on the Bettman Circuit (1,024).

A bit like Ron Hainsey, who had never made the playoffs before being acquired by the Penguins in February 2017 and lifting the precious trophy a few months later, the American has never known successful playoffs.

Since the beginning of his career, he has participated in the spring tournament on seven occasions. Before this year, he had never made it past the first round.

“I’ve been in this league for 16 years and I’ve never come close. Living this kind of course is really special. It’s cool. I try to stay in the present and savor every moment,” said the 35-year-old defender.

Memories of Bourque

Andrew Cogliano, back from finger surgery, is also hoping to win the Cup for the first time in his career. He was part of the Stars team that lost six games to Lightning in the final round of 2020. In his case, an Avalanche coronation would make him appear in the top ten of players who had to wait the longest (1140 games) before winning the top honors.

Of course, the top of this list is occupied by Raymond Bourque. The Quebecois played 1,612 games in 22 seasons before winning the Stanley Cup in 2001.

Joe Sakic, the current general manager of Avalanche, was then captain of that formation.

“In Ray’s rookie year we couldn’t win. When he returned the following season, of course we wanted to earn even more for him, Sakic said during the media day before the series began. When chemistry is good within a team, when players play for each other, that’s the kind of motivation that can go a long way.

victory for the elderly

The difference with the current Avalanche squad is that most of Bourque’s teammates already wore the team’s colors during the 1996 triumph.

This time, it’s just two (Darren Helm with the Red Wings in 2008 and Andre Burakovsky with the Capitals in 2018) who have tasted the euphoria of victory.

“Everyone is trying to win their first cup. So it’s not motivation that’s missing, Johnson said. I don’t think my teammates thought about winning this thing for the older guys on the team. I think they tell themselves that we have to earn it for each of us.

About this, Sakic is not so sure.

“In general, players unite around this type of cause, especially when they are valued players. They want to win for these teammates as much as they want to win for themselves.”

If Avalanche beats Lightning, we will have the heart net according to the order of delivery of the trophy.

Johnson fulfilled the promise made to his former coach

When Jack Johnson left the University of Michigan’s Wolverines program to finish the 2006-07 season with the Los Angeles Kings, he made a promise to his coach, Red Berenson.

Before leaving for California, he swore to her that one day he would graduate from college. Which he finally managed to do, a few weeks ago.

A period of 18 years

It took 18 years between the moment he first placed his buttocks on the benches of this prestigious establishment and the success of his last course.

“I called Red as soon as I finished,” the Avalanche defender said hours before Game 2 of the finals.

“Eighteen years… Most of the students are doctors at this point,” said Johnson, a graduate of general studies (general studies), smiling.

Distance learning courses

In his 16 seasons in the NHL, Johnson rarely made the playoffs.

And every time, with the exception of this spring, their journey has ended in round one. Instead of grumbling and feeling sorry for himself, he focused on fulfilling the promise he had made and the goal he had set for himself.

“When I was young, I didn’t think I was good enough to play in the NHL. My dream was to play for the University of Michigan. I also wanted to graduate from this school, the best public institution in the country,” he explained.

The Hurricanes’ first-round pick (3rd overall) in 2005, Johnson’s plans changed when the Kings, who acquired him in September 2006 in a trade involving Oleg Tverdovsky, Éric Bélanger and Tim Gleason, invited him to come and finish the season with them.

The plans changed, but the objective remained.

“In a couple of seasons when I wasn’t lucky enough to make the playoffs, I took distance lessons in the spring sessions. I also took advantage of the pandemic to take classes virtually. Classes that were usually only offered on campus.”

And here he is 18 years later with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan.

Leave a Comment