Johansen: ‘I wish I was still a Blue Jacket’

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Well, this is probably going to get some eyeballs.

Ahead of tomorrow’s Nashville-Columbus game — the first in which Ryan Johansen and Seth Jones will face their old clubs since January’s blockbuster trade — Johansen conducted a lengthy Q&A with the Dispatch’s Aaron Portzline.

It’s a compelling read — check out the entire thing here — and the quotes bound to garner the most attention are ones in which Johansen professes how much he loved Columbus.

From the Dispatch:

“I wish I was still a Blue Jacket. Let me make sure I’m wording this the right way. (pauses)

“I wish we didn’t start the season 0-8. I wish we were in the playoffs. I wish we had a great year. I wish we were all still together. But that’s professional sports. It happens, and when a team struggles there are trades. Maybe I felt like it wouldn’t be me that’s going (to get traded), but it was.

“I loved more than anything else in the world being a Blue Jacket.”

Johansen went on to say “I love being a Nashville Predator,” but did preface that remark by saying it’s partly because “they didn’t believe that I could be a big piece of the franchise in Columbus any more.”

Interesting stuff, to say the least.

To put this into context, it’s worth remembering that Johansen’s formative NHL years came in Columbus. He debuted as a 19-year-old and was a central figure in some of the franchise’s best-ever moments: scoring six points in six games during an exciting ’14 playoff series against Pittsburgh, and capturing MVP honors at the 2015 All-Star Game, which Columbus hosted.

So it’s easy to see why he has an affinity for the place.

Saturday’s game will be in Nashville, and chances are most of the local focus will be on Jones’ return to Bridgestone, and what kind of reception he’ll get.

But with these latest remarks now out there, it’ll be curious to see what kind of response Johansen gets, too.