Jack Johnson wants people to know he’s happy in Columbus — especially the people that offered condolences to his mom and dad upon learning of the trade.
“People were telling my parents, ‘Oh, I’m sorry,’” Johnson told the Columbus Dispatch. “Why? I’m happy. It’s been great. The opportunity is a better one for me here. It’s been an easy transition, and that’s pretty much a credit to the guys in the room.
“I’ve only been here two weeks, but it feels like I’ve been here the entire year.”
Those condoling Mr. and Mrs. Johnson probably thought Jack felt like Jeff Carter — a guy that never wanted to go to Columbus in the first place and seemed happy to leave.
But that’s not the case at all.
Johnson, 25, sees the move as a positive one. He’s got a shot at being a No. 1 defenseman — which wasn’t going to happen playing with Drew Doughty — and is back in his familiar Midwestern surroundings (Johnson’s an Indiana native and University of Michigan alum.)
He also didn’t sound that upset about having to leave the Kings. He told the Dispatch he hasn’t been in contact with any of his former teammates and drew a thick line in the sand when it came to tonight’s game.
“We’re no longer teammates,” Johnson said. “They’re the enemy.”
You have to wonder if Johnson’s enthusiasm about joining arguably the NHL’s most dysfunctional franchise stems from his acrimonious relationship with Kings GM Dean Lombardi. Things soured when Lombardi said Johnson was “awful as a hockey player” while at Michigan; Johnson’s exit conversation with Lombardi didn’t sound cordial either:
“It was a very short, sweet conversation. It was, ‘We dealt you Columbus. Thanks. Bye.’
“Pretty short and sweet. There was really nothing that needed to be said.”
This, of course, happened less than a year after Lombardi gave Johnson a seven-year, $30.5 million extension, which suggested Johnson was going to be in L.A. for a very long time.