Jack Johnson on Kings: “I could care less if they win or lose”

12 Comments

Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Post-Dispatch caught up with Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson on Wednesday, prior to Johnson leaving to play with Team USA at the upcoming World Hockey Championships in Sweden/Finland.

Eventually, the conversation turned to Johnson’s former team — the Los Angeles Kings — and their stunning first-round upset of the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Canucks.

Portzline asked if it was easy or hard to watch LA play well in the playoffs, to which Johnson replied…

“It’s funny. I’ve been asked that by a few people. I don’t feel any emotional connection to the Kings at all. To me, it’s just another hockey game. I’ve completely turned the page like that. If I’m out and I happen to see it on TV, it’s really not a big deal.

“To be honest with you, I could care less if they win or lose. Some guys on that team I played with, I’ll always consider friends. But whether they win or not, it means nothing to me.”

This shouldn’t come as a huge shock. Most of Johnson’s post-trade comments suggested his relationship with the Kings wasn’t great (see here) and his exit conversation with GM Dean Lombardi sounded, uh, blunt (see here).

That said…now you really have to start wondering if Johnson was a divisive presence in the L.A. room. After the trade, the Kings went 12-5-3 (plus 4-1 in the playoffs) and given Jeff Carter’s minimal returns — nine points in the regular season, two in the postseason — it could be argued there was an addition-by-subtraction thing going on with Johnson.

I mean, just listen to him talk about his time with the Kings:

Asked if such a disconnect with his former club surprised him, Johnson said: “Yes, and no. It tells me I’m happy where I am. That’s all I need to know.

“I don’t have any animosity. If I had a chance, I’d probably thank them for trading me, because I feel like I’m in a better spot now. I’m where I belong.”

That sound like a guy who was happy to be in L.A.?

Blackhawks’ Boris Katchouk sidelined by ankle sprain

blackhawks
Harry How/Getty Images
13 Comments

CHICAGO — Blackhawks forward Boris Katchouk will be sidelined for four to six weeks with a left ankle sprain, the team announced.

The 24-year-old Katchouk played almost 12 minutes during a 3-0 preseason loss to Detroit on Saturday night. He was acquired in a multiplayer trade with Tampa Bay in March.

The Blackhawks open the season on Oct. 12 at Colorado.

The team also said forward Jujhar Khaira is day to day with a right ankle injury.

Ducks’ Urho Vaakanainen crashes into boards, leaves on stretcher

Getty Images
3 Comments

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Ducks defenseman Urho Vaakanainen was taken off the Honda Center ice on a stretcher after he crashed into the end boards in the first period of Anaheim’s preseason game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Finnish defenseman was conscious and alert with full movement in his extremities at UCI Medical Center, the Ducks said.

The frightening incident occurred midway through the opening period when Vaakanainen smashed into the boards at a dangerous speed behind the Sharks’ net. Vaakanainen appeared to be concentrating on the pass he had just made to Derek Grant, who scored the Ducks’ opening goal on the assist.

Vaakanainen’s teammates came onto the ice and gathered around him as he was taken away on the stretcher.

The Ducks acquired the 23-year-old Vaakanainen from Boston last March in the deal that sent longtime Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm to the Bruins. After recording two assists in 14 games for the Ducks last season, Vaakanainen is attempting to win a top-six role on Anaheim’s defense this fall.

Lightning donate $2 million to Hurricane Ian relief efforts

tampa bay lightning
Scott Audette/Getty Images
2 Comments

TAMPA, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Lightning and team owner Jeff Vinik are donating $2 million toward Hurricane Ian relief efforts.

The NHL team announced that $1 million each will be donated by the Tampa Bay Lightning Foundation and the Vinik Family Foundation.

“This is a tragic situation for many families and communities across the state of Florida, but especially so in the southwest region of the state,” Vinik said in a statement released by the team. “In times like these the most important thing we can do is support one another, and we hope this donation will help families recover and rebuild in the months to come.”

Ian made landfall Wednesday on Florida’s Gulf Coast, south of the Tampa Bay area. The Lightning postponed two home preseason games and moved the club’s training camp to Nashville, Tennessee, during the storm.

Maple Leafs sign defenseman Rasmus Sandin to 2-year deal

Rasmus Sandin
Julian Avram/Getty Images
2 Comments

TORONTO — Rasmus Sandin has signed a two-year, $2.8 million contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, the club announced on Thursday.

The 22-year-old from Sweden was the 29th overall selection in the 2018 draft. Sandin had 16 points in 51 games with Toronto last season. He’s played in 88 career regular-season games, with six goals and 22 assists, and has one goal in five playoff games.

“Got a great set of tools,” fellow defenseman Jake Muzzin said. “With experience, I think they’re only going to get better.”

The signing comes as the Leafs’ blueliners been hit hard by injuries. Muzzin has been dealing with a back issue, and Timothy Liljegren recently had surgery for a hernia.

Toronto then lost Jamie Benn (groin) and Carl Dahlstrom (shoulder) in Wednesday’s 3-0 preseason victory over the Montreal Canadiens, pressing forwards Calle Jarnkrok and Alexander Kerfoot into defensive roles for two periods.