January 31st, 2008... Experiencing
everything at the 2008 NHL All-Star Weekend in Atlanta and
participating in the YoungStars game was amazing.
An interesting note about the Western
Conference YoungStars team was that 4 of the 8 players attended the
same high school. Erik Johnson, Patrick Kane, Peter Mueller, and myself
all went to Ann Arbor Pioneer. I don't know how many times one high
school can claim half a team in an NHL event!
The amount of media and fans was unreal and I
ended up doing interviews for the Los Angeles Kings, the Detroit Red
Wings since I'm from Michigan, and the media at the YoungStars Media
Day. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution newspaper wrote a story about the
passion of the fans at All-Star Weekend. The whole weekend is an event
that is not only about hockey, but also about connecting with the fans
and giving them experiences they'll remember.
Update: Unfortunately my season is over after I broke my foot last
game. We're looking to get the site up to date and hopefully come back
even better next season!
January 6th, 2008... Christmas
in Los Angeles is a lot different than Michigan. I'm not used to sun
and sand in December, but I'll learn to adjust. My family came into
town to help celebrate, so that was nice. A family tradition in our
house is to have a mini-stick tournament on Christmas. The semifinals
consisted of me vs. my dad and my little brother Kenny vs. my mom. True
to form, the kids won and I faced Kenny in the finals. It was a tough
battle with us going to Game 7 and Kenny pulling out the victory. The
first photo below is us wrestling at the end. Like I said, one major
change is getting to hang out on the beach in the winter. I am reading
a book called "Playing for Pizza" by John Grisham. It's a good book
about a football player who ends up going to Italy to play just for
fun. Sometimes it's nice to just play and not worry about all the
business stuff. It's important for me to read and keep being a student
since I'm still taking classes at Michigan. I'm off the 4-year plan
now, but I promised my parents I would graduate someday. Speaking of
Michigan, there was a pretty big bowl game on New Year's Day and I have
to say it was great to be a Michigan Wolverine when they beat #9 ranked
Florida 41-35 in the Capital One Bowl. The Johnson Family are huge
college football fans and it was absolutely awesome. My little brother
got into the act a few times by showing off his Maize and Blue. Later
on, I was out on the beach throwing the football with J-S Aubin and
attempting to do my best Chad Henne impression, although I don't think
I could throw for 373 yards. I definitely had bragging rights for
Michigan that day though. Now, bragging rights for the World Junior
Championships is another story. USA was undefeated in the round robin
part of the tournament, but lost to Canada in the semi finals and lost
to Russia in the third place game. Of course, Canada won their 4th gold
in a row and the Canadians have bragging rights. I can't wait until
Team USA claims it again.
experience during the holidays is getting to see Kenny play hockey out
here. He's playing for a team called the Anaheim Wildcats while he is
staying out here. I'm trying to get to as many practices and games as I
can since I don't get to see him play much anymore. It's fun to be in
the locker room and lace up his skates like the old days. I hung out
with a lot of his new teammates, signed autographs, took photos, and
just tried to give them advice on playing hockey. The whole team ended
up coming to my game against the Chicago Blackhawks (which we won 9-2),
so it's a cool experience to see the support go both ways.
Over the holidays, I
had the opportunity to meet a young fan named Desmond Feher-Hill. He
came all the way from Hamilton, Ontario, to watch me play (and visit
family) and the Toronto Star wrote a story about
him. He has been a fan of mine since I played for the University of
Michigan. He is a tough little kid who works hard and never gives up.
He's just 9 years old, but plays on a hockey team with all 10 year
olds. The big thing is that he also has cerebral palsy and is still one
of the best players on his team. It was great to spend time with him
and see how much he just loves playing hockey. The holidays are a great time
for being with family and I was lucky enough to spend it with mine.
It's tough living so far away now, but we're making it work and I
cherish all the memories we keep making.
I got some pretty exciting news and found out I
have been selected to participate in the YoungStars skills event as part
of the 2008 NHL All-Star Weekend in Atlanta. I'm really flattered and
can't wait to represent the Kings on this national stage.
20th, 2007... It was such a thrill last night
to play at Joe Louis Arena and against the Red Wings. Growing up, I had
random practices and games there, especially when I went to Michigan
and the CCHA. My dad used to work for the Wings when I was younger, so
after they were done practicing I would skate with some of the players.
It's amazing to think that a few years ago I was a little kid trying to
skate around them and now I'm in the NHL playing against them.
The whole experience
of going back to Michigan was great. It started the night before when
my dad picked me up from the hotel to take me home. First order of
business when I got there was playing a game of mini-sticks with my
little brother Kenny. I could barely get my coat and tie off before he
was down on the ground trying to get a cheap goal in early. I miss
having those little games each night. It's tough not hanging out with
him every day, but I try to make each time we spend together fun and
memorable. It was also great to have a home-cooked meal from my mom. I
definitely miss that.
little brother Kenny doing one of his crazy faces. I miss the random
stuff he does.
My dad took me back to the hotel and I tried to
get a good sleep. At our game-day
skate the next morning, my brother's whole '98 Victory Honda team came
to watch. It was nice to have my brother get to see what I'm up to now
although he was probably having more fun running around an empty arena
with his friends. Afterwards, they stuck around and got autographs from
the Kings. Guys like Blake, Thornton, and Cammalleri were great talking
to them all and signing everything. I think Kenny's team enjoyed the
game-day skate and was happy enough with just that, but I ended up
buying tickets for them all to come to the game later that night and
they were definitely excited.
It was a privilege to play at the Joe in front
of so many family and friends. I couldn't believe how many people had
come to see me play. There were people from my elementary school, my
old teammates from the Development Program and Michigan, just old
friends and family, and even my pediatrician! I had a lot of support
from so many people and I can't thank them enough. Without them over
the years, I would not be where I am today. Thanks to all of those who
have supported me throughout the years and hopefully we'll come out
with the win next time we're in Detroit.
We know there will be brighter days ahead and
we're giving our best effort on the ice. The vets have definitely been
great to me this year, especially Blake with everything he has done on
and off the ice for me. Nobody is giving up and we look forward to
turning the corner and playing better hockey.
Next stop is Columbus and as an Ann
Arbor-native and former Wolverine, I definitely am not looking forward
to going to that city. Go Blue! Go Kings!
11th, 2007... I'm settling in during my first
year in the NHL. I always expect more out of myself and am never
satisfied, but so far I think things are going well. I'm still just 20
years old and adjusting to a lot of new experiences. I moved out of Rob
Blake's house after I bought my own place. This is the first time I
have lived on my own, but things are going pretty well. I still look to
Rob for advice and try to pick his brain all the time about hockey.
I can't believe we
are a third of the way through the season already. We have to focus and
capitalize on all of our chances and can't give away points. I hear all
the time that we are looking at the future since we have such a young
core group of guys, but I want to compete now and will never quit. I
still think we can make a push to get back into the playoff race. Each
game is a new learning experience and helps us get better and prepare
for the future.
NHL.com wrote an
article about me that you can check out here. Despite being a rookie,
it's nice to know my teammates count on me to contribute. We're playing
in Detroit soon and I'm sure it will be fun to have a lot of family and
friends watching me play in the NHL. Throughout college I played at the
Joe, and although I've had a lot people visit and watch me play in LA,
I can't wait to play "at home" in front of everyone.
29th, 2007... Ooops, it has been a month, but
I am new to this and will try to update on a more regular basis.
Anyway, the season is a quarter of the way through and we have some
things to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, but we also have a few
things to improve on. We have a pretty good young core of players and I
think we're getting used to playing with each other. I'm excited for
the future, but definitely want to be successful now. We have an
important stretch of games coming up against Western Conference teams
and you never want to give away points.
My old team, the
University of Michigan Wolverines, are playing great so far this
season. They are on a 12-game winning streak and ranked #1 in the
nation. They're another young team - with 12 freshmen - but have two
solid seniors in Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik to learn from. I'm proud
of them and hope they can bring another national championship to Ann
Arbor. Good luck boys!
October 25th, 2007... Well,
we are back in LA for a few home games in a row. We're going to be
playing the Edmonton Oilers soon and it should be pretty fun facing my
former teammate and housemate Andrew Cogliano. It's pretty cool that we
lived across the hall from each other and were playing college hockey
together just a few months ago and now we're going to be playing
against each other in the NHL! He's playing really well and I want to
see him succeed in this league, but I hope I do my job better when we
play and keep him off the scoresheet.
October 20th, 2007...
Finally. Not that I've been waiting too long (less than 15 career
games), but it's nice to get it out of the way. I scored my first goal
off a great pass from Kyle Calder last night. It was in Vancouver,
where I have a bit of history, so it's nice to make a little noise
there again. Every game I feel more and more comfortable out there. I'm
focused on my defense, but it's nice to contribute on the offensive
end, especially when we get a victory.
We're heading back home after this Western
Canada 2-game stint with 4 home games. Hopefully we can keep the
momentum going and notch a few more wins. ESPN did an article on Rob
Blake and me called
rookie Johnson an NHL education. It's about him
being a mentor and helping me through my rookie season. Anyway, hope
you like it and I hope to see you at the Staples Center!
On a side note, I
want to thank all of my fans for your support and understanding
throughout my career. I'm still a rookie and just getting my feet wet
in this league. I wish I could sign autographs for everyone after games
or on the road, but it's a business and I'm not in charge. Being one of
the youngest guys on the team, I don't want to be the last one on the
bus and make all the veterans wait. I'm sorry to anyone I may have
offended, but I really do appreciate all the support and signs that I
see at different rinks throughout the league and at the Staples Center.
Thanks again and hopefully I'll see you around soon!
11th, 2007... The 2007-08 season has begun. We
had our home opener October 6th against the St. Louis Blues. My parents
came into town, so it was nice to see them after the long trip to
We traveled to Dallas
to play the Stars on October 10th. We ended up losing the game, but I
tallied my first NHL point with an assist on Kyle Calder's goal. It's
nice to get my first assist out of the way, but I would rather get the
'W' for the team.
We're heading back to LA for 3 games before
going on the road in Western Canada. Things are looking good and I'm
really excited to see our team develop together.
We opened the NHL's 2007-08 Season in London against the Stanley Cup
Champion Anaheim Ducks. It was the first time the NHL has ever played
in Europe, so it was cool to be a part of history. We got a late start
due to some trouble with the lights, but everything else seemed to go
our way. The crowd was amazing with over 17000 fans. You'd look up into
the stands and there were jerseys from all different NHL teams. We won
4-1 with a great team effort.
September 27th, 2007...
With rookie and main camp over, we traveled to Europe to play a few
games. It's always fun to travel overseas. I've played in a lot of
tournaments over here, most recently the World Championships in Russia.
We went to Salzburg, Austria to play in the Red Bull Salute
Invitational Tournament. Salzburg's a cool city with a lot of history.
There's a giant chess board in the middle of town that gets a pretty
big crowd watching and there is a huge castle that looks over the city.
It's also the site where the "Sound of Music" was filmed, so it's a
major tourist attraction.
In our first game, we played EC Red Bulls
Salzburg and were down 3-0 not even 4 minutes into the game. Not really
the start we wanted. We rallied though and won 7-6. The next game we
found ourselves trailing again, 2-0 in the second period, to Farjestads
BK. We rallied again and won 4-3. Anze Kopitar was great during the
tournament, being named MVP and scoring the game-winning goal in the
championship with less than a minute to go. The regular season is just
a couple days away as we open up with two games against the Stanley Cup
Champion Anaheim Ducks in London. I'm excited to get the 2007-08 season
wanted to give a shout out to my little brother Kenny. While I've been
over here in Europe, he played in his first AAA tournament. He even
scored in the shootout as his team won the tournament. You can check
out the video here.
Wish I could've been there buddy! Miss you and great job! I'm so proud
excited for the season to start and to get back to LA and play in front
of the home crowd. I bet you guys are excited too! Get ready for an
The season is just around the corner and I'm back in LA trying to get
ready. We just started rookie camp, so it was good to get back on the
ice with my teammates. I spent most of the summer preparing for the
coming season both on and off the ice. I can't believe that the Frozen
Fury is just a few weeks away and then we start the season in London!
It's going to be a pretty exciting rookie season and I can't wait.
Check back throughout the season as I keep you updated on my rookie
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