Selected third overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Jack Johnson was considered far and away the best defensive prospect available in the draft, and the Carolina Hurricanes happily picked the Fairbault, Minnesota native. Johnson is expected to one day be the type of physical two-way defenseman that a franchise can build its core around. This season with the University of Michigan he has continued to shine bright with 21 points in 17 games, placing him eighth in overall CCHA scoring and tops for all defenseman, and this is just his freshman year.
Hockey’s Future caught up with Johnson as he readied himself for his first World Junior Championship appearance.
HF: You were left off this team last year, do you feel any added pressure to make it clear you should have been here for the 2005 tournament?
JJ: No, not at all. We’re here to do our best and we came here to win.
HF: What’s your role on this year’s team?
JJ: Pretty much whatever the coaches want me to do.
HF: Team USA is overwhelming favorites. How does that weigh on your mind going into the tournament?
JJ: Well, we as a team expect to win and want to do everything we can to win, but being up here in Canada and everything we kind of feel Canada is going to be the team to beat here because we know how tough they’re going to be.
HF: Who will be your primary defensive partner for the tournament?
JJ: Right now on the board it says Erik Johnson (2006 eligible), but coach said that’s subject to change, so I don’t really know.
HF: Your biggest round robin match is against Canada. Which forwards in particular do you expect to be matching up against?
JJ: Me personally I don’t know, but I know they have some great forwards. My teammate in college, Andrew Cogliano, I know he’s an exceptional forward and he’ll be a tough guy to cover.
HF: Your friendship with Sidney Crosby has been well-documented. Was it a little disappointing to be selected third in the draft and not have the two of you go 1-2 in the NHL draft?
JJ: No, it wasn’t disappointing because it was totally out of my control and I was just happy with how things ended up.
HF: You probably get asked a lot what is your favorite Sidney Crosby story. What’s your favourite Jack Johnson story? What do you think Crosby would say if asked to describe something that happened to you that best describes your character or sense of humor?
JJ: Oh, geez. I don’t know, I don’t want to say the wrong thing (laughing), you’d probably be better off asking him.
HF: This is your first season in college. How have you enjoyed the experience at the University of Michigan? Not only playing collegiate hockey, but life on campus?
JJ: I love it. It’s everything I thought it would be and I’m happy that I decided to go play in college.
HF: What are you taking in school?
JJ: Sports management, so I’m in the school of kinesiology.
HF: How many years do you anticipate you will stay in college?
JJ: I have no idea. Right now I play for Michigan and I plan, right now I plan on staying for four but everything is subject to change.
HF: Eventually you’re going to end up in Carolina. This is a team with some fantastic young talent, including Eric Staal and Cam Ward. How do you think you will fit in to that young core?
JJ: I hope I can keep up with them. They’re lighting it up right now and I hope I’m good enough to someday play for them.
HF: You’re a big, aggressive, defenseman. What do you think the role of fighting is in professional hockey?
JJ: I think it’s a part of the game and it always should be. It’s something that players have to cope with, whether you like it or not.
HF: Growing up, what hockey player did you idolize the most?
JJ: Growing up as a young kid I always loved Chris Chelios. Now he’s probably going to retire soon, and the player I like to watch the most is Alexei Kovalev, just because I love to watch him with the puck.
HF: Do you have a non-hockey role model?
JJ: Well, probably my father, like any other kid, I idolized my dad.
Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.