Johnson flying like a Bird

By Jeff Bromley

When Trevor Johnson was a member of the Kootenay ICE, the Trail native garnered his share of apt and deserving nicknames. ‘T.J.’ was the obvious, ‘Crazylegs’ Johnson was another moniker common to those who’d seen his peculiar skating style during his four years in Cranbrook.

Unfortunately, ‘defensive stalwart’ wasn’t one of those trite pen names that Trevor Johnson was saddled with during his time in the Key City. At the time of the trade Johnson had tallied 10g, 23a for 33 points. The glaring stat however was the -22 and for a defenseman on a team where the defensive corps was considered the strong point, something had to give.

With stats such as 7g, 14a for 21 points and a -4 on a last-place team, it was a stigma that the offensively-minded blueliner has shaken with a fresh start as a Seattle Thunderbird.

Johnson, obtained for a similar style player in Gerard Dicaire at the WHL trade deadline on January 14, made his return to his old stomping grounds in the unlikely position of second round playoff opponent. Something Johnson says he never thought of after the deal. “No, not really,” said Johnson of the improbable match-up. “It’s a little different but that’s the way hockey goes. We won and they won so now we’re playing them. That’s the way it works.”

The week prior to the deadline Johnson’s thoughts were preoccupied with the possibility of getting dealt. His play of late had deteriorated with even his forte, the offensive side of the scoresheet suffering to the point where the defensive game of the shifty blueliner was becoming a distraction.

The trade would go down on the deadline and be looked upon as a new beginning for both Johnson and Dicaire. Except Johnson didn’t expect to come back to the city which held so many great hockey memories so soon. “It was different,” said Johnson. “I’d been here for almost four years and it was a definite change when I went to Seattle but coming back here you see some familiar faces. I was excited to come back.”

The newest T-Bird is earning his wings with Seattle and is a good bet to be one of the club’s allotment of three overage players next season on a club chock full of young talent.

“I have more responsibility there, “said Johnson. “I play a bigger role and it’s just been better all around. I like it a lot better.”

After the two games of the Western Conference semifinal in Cranbrook, Johnson had a chance to reminisce and reflect with his old teammates before the series shifted back to Seattle. It was also a chance for ‘T.J.’ to reflect on the changes in his career this past season.

“Here they have a great organization but changes can be good for a guy sometimes.”