Andy Katzenmoyer

Jack Johnson met his boyhood idol…in a related story, his boyhood idol is Andy Katzenmoyer


Even though Jack Johnson had to move from Los Angeles to Columbus and left a potential playoff team for one with zero chance at the postseason, what happened on Thursday made it all worthwhile.

Johnson got to meet his boyhood idol, former Ohio State linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer.

“I was like, ‘holy [crap],'” Johnson told the Columbus Dispatch. “He was the man. He had the mirrored visor and the tattoos. This was the coolest thing ever.”

Katzenmoyer — aka “The Big Kat” — became the first-ever Buckeye to win the Butkus Award (in 1997), given annually to the top linebacker in college football. He was a consensus All-American that year and later taken in the first round of the NFL Draft by New England, only to have his professional career cut short by a neck injury.

Clearly, Johnson loved the guy…even though he grew up in Michigan and played hockey for the Wolverines. In fact, Johnson still has his No. 45 Katzenmoyer jersey.
“I love football,” Johnson said. “Obviously I rooted for Michigan, but I’ve always liked certain players. Same with hockey. You have your favorite teams but you have your favorite players. I was 12, 13 years old. I didn’t care.”

As for Big Kat, he wanted to meet Johnson after reading how big a fan the Blue Jackets defenseman is. Speaking of the Blue Jackets, Katzenmoyer says he’s a fan.

“I’ve wanted to get season tickets but I just haven’t had the time,” he said. “But I try to catch 40 or 50 games on TV each year. I keep in touch.”

In case you’re wondering, Katzenmoyer now runs an eponymous workout facility in Ohio.

Raffl coverts PTO into one-year, $575K deal with Jets

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There’s another Raffl in the NHL.

On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.

Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.

“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.

With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.

For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.

Flyers to start season with seven d-men; MacDonald sent to AHL

Andrew MacDonald, Matt Calvert
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Seven defensemen will comprise the Philadelphia Flyers’ opening-day roster, which the club finalized today.

Those seven are Radko Gudas, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Nick Schultz, Brandon Manning, Mark Streit, and Evgeny Medvedev.

Not on the list? Andrew MacDonald, who has cleared waivers and been assigned to AHL Lehigh Valley. (That move allowed the Flyers to keep both Manning and youngster Scott Laughton.)

Also not on the list were prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Sam Morin, Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim. The first three will start the season in the AHL. The last two have been sent back to junior.

But the opening-day roster is not where this story ends. How the Flyers’ defensive mix changes as the season progresses will be worth watching.

They’d no doubt love to move Schenn, a pending unrestricted free agent with a $3.6 million cap hit. He could also end up in the AHL, a la MacDonald.

Medvedev, the 33-year-old who came over from the KHL and put up five points in five preseason games, is another pending UFA. The club could either look to re-sign or flip him.

Might 37-year-old Streit be a chip worth cashing in at the deadline, especially if the Flyers aren’t in a playoff position on Feb. 29? He’s only got two years left on his contract.

Meanwhile, GM Ron Hextall will be watching pending restricted free agents Manning and Gudas closely. Are they part of the future?

So, lots of decisions to make in Philly as the blue line continues its much-needed transition.