From contract dispute to All-Star MVP, Johansen’s had quite the year

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COLUMBUS — To call the last five months of Ryan Johansen’s life ‘eventful’ would be an understatement.

In September, the Blue Jackets’ top center was embroiled in an ugly contract dispute. Columbus president John Davidson accused Johansen’s agent of extortion, and Johansen missed all of training camp and the preseason.

Now, the 22-year-old is the MVP of the 2015 NHL All-Star Game.

“You know what? It’s been really cool and it hasn’t hit me yet for sure — this is something I’ll remember for a very long time,” Johansen said, when asked to contrast how he felt now compared to September.

“We’ve just been really enjoying every moment of this weekend and just being in Columbus, in front of our fans and our first [All-Star] game, it really has been a special weekend.”

While teammate Nick Foligno was primarily the face of Columbus this weekend — he served as captain, and was at the center of numerous media requests — Johansen was Columbus’ star. He captured MVP honors following a two-goal, four-point performance in Sunday’s game, but the award came largely on the strength of Blue Jackets fans who flooded social media to vote in his favor.

The MVP nod was a fitting end to the Johansen love-in, which began on Friday — when he was taken No. 1 overall at the Fantasy Draft — and continued into Saturday’s skills competition, when Blue Jackets fans responded earnestly after Johansen wore an Ohio State football jersey during the Breakaway Challenge, then trotted out the 7-year-old son of Columbus trainer Mike Vogt for his second attempt.

“I saw Vogter’s kid ripping around in the dressing room, and I thought, perfect, he would love to have that opportunity,” Johansen said. “So I talked to Mike and we agreed upon it, and he was pumped up to be able to get a chance to do that, and something I think we all really enjoyed.”

Now, not to read too much into this series of events, but…

This was the same Columbus crowd, remember, that spent the majority of the weekend lustily booing Rick Nash — the former franchise star that requested, and received, a trade out of town. It’s a passionate fanbase here, one that has a pretty long memory, and Nash bore the brunt of it over the course of 72 hours.

In September, there was concern “another Rick Nash situation” was at play with Johansen. The impasse between him and the club appeared huge, and the venom spit by Davidson — calling the situation “baffling,” and “so one-sided it’s nonsensical” — had many wondering if another ugly split was in the cards.

Johansen did eventually sign, and played well. But there was no telling what residual effect would come from that spat, or how much damage was done.

This weekend proved there wasn’t any.

“It’s meant a lot, us being a part of it,” Johansen said. “That’s all we’ve been talking about over the last few days is seeing the fans and how much they’ve been enjoying all the festivities and stuff and we did a two-hour signing today at the convention center up there, and everybody just seemed to be having a great time, and all the kids were laughing and smiling and having fun.

“So it’s just been a great thing to see these last few days.”

Cannonball Run…and gun: Team Toews wins highest-scoring game in ASG history

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COLUMBUS — There were goals.

Oh, how there were goals.

Twenty-nine of them, to be exact — the highest-scoring affair in NHL All-Star Game history, which ended with Team Toews beating Team Foligno 17-12 on Sunday night at Nationwide Arena.

The home of the Blue Jackets, perhaps best known for its thunderous goal cannon that goes off every time a puck finds the back of the net, was firing constantly throughout the evening — though only on goals from Team Foligno, much to the relief of eardrums across the arena.

The game was, as the score suggests, light on defense and intensity, but featured an absolute boatload of goals. The 29 eclipsed the mark set at the 2001 All-Star Game in Denver when North America beat the World 14-12 on the strength of Bill Guerin’s hat trick.

Fourteen years later, it was a four-goal effort that led the way. Islanders captain John Tavares potted a quartet of markers for Team Toews, becoming just one of six players to accomplish the feat in an All-Star Game: Dany Heatley (2003), Mike Gartner (’93), Mario Lemieux (’90), Vincent Damphousse (’91) and Wayne Gretzky (’83) were the others.

On any other day, Tavares’ effort would’ve netted him Most Valuable Player honors, but not on Sunday — that went to hometown favorite Ryan Johansen, who finished with two goals and four points (and clearly benefited from the fan voting process for MVP).

While flat at times, the 60th edition of the league’s All-Star gala proved a nice ending for what was a great weekend for Columbus. The city embraced this event with enthusiasm, which included a jam-packed house — 18,901 in attendance — for Sunday’s finale.

“The fans, the fifth line in Columbus here has been unbelievable,” Johansen said following the game. “Thank you so much. You guys are unbelievable.”

NOTES

Jakub Voracek tied Lemieux’s record for points in an ASG, with six… Panthers rookie d-man Aaron Ekblad acquitted himself nicely after being named to the game as an injury replacement, finishing with four assists… Johansen led Team Foligno in scoring while Patrick Kane, Claude Giroux, Alex Ovechkin and Steve Stamkos each had three points … The only skaters that failed to register a point were Anze Kopitar, Phil Kessel and Zemgus Girgensons, all from Team Foligno… Every Team Toews skater had at least one point.

Supercut: Every goal from the highest-scoring period in All-Star Game history

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The 2015 NHL All-Star Game is now one for the record books.

During the second period of today’s tilt at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Team Toews and Team Foligno combined for 11 goals — the highest-scoring period in ASG history.

And now you can watch them all!

Today’s game eclipsed the previous record of 10 goals, set during the second period of the 1997 All-Star Game in San Jose. John Tavares and Steve Stamkos scored twice, with Ryan Suter, Claude Giroux, Tyler Seguin, Rick Nash, Filip Forsberg, Jakub Voracek, and Nick Foligno adding single markers.

As you can imagine, it wasn’t a banner 20 minutes for the goalies. Corey Crawford allowed four goals on 18 shots while Marc-Andre Fleury was ventilated for seven on 16.

Video: Foligno sets up Johansen to delight of hometown crowd

The All-Star Game gives us an opportunity to see some amazing line combinations that we couldn’t get anywhere else. For Blue Jackets fans though, it’s also a chance to see how their top duo would hold up against some of the best players the NHL has to offer.

So naturally the hometown crowd was delighted to see that Nick Foligno is capable of setting up Ryan Johansen even with the league’s elite are working against them:

Going into the season, it wouldn’t have shocked many had they been told that Johansen would make an appearance in the All-Star Game, but the knowledge that Foligno would be one of the captains would have raised some eyebrows. He had been solid before this season, but was never a top player. Still, he doesn’t look out of place in tonight’s game after scoring 18 goals and 42 points in 44 contests in 2014-15.

When the dust settled on the first period, a combined eight goals were scored, but only Johansen had found the back of the net twice. While that first marker was close, there was no question about the second:

Get your game notes: Team Toews vs. Team Foligno

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Today on NBC, it’s the Team Toews vs. Team Foligno in the 2015 NHL All-Star Game (NBCSN, 5 p.m. ET). Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL’s public relations department:

source:
NHL CLUB AND ALL-STAR GAME TEAMMATES

Team Foligno: D Duncan Keith and RW Patrick Kane (Chicago), LW Nick Foligno and C Ryan Johansen (Columbus), D Drew Doughty, C Anze Kopitar and head coach Darryl Sutter (Los Angeles) G Brian Elliott and D Kevin Shattenkirk (St. Louis)

Team Toews: D Mark Giordano and LW Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary), G Corey Crawford, D Brent Seabrook and C Jonathan Toews (Chicago), G Roberto Luongo and D Aaron Ekblad (Florida), D Shea Weber, C Filip Forsberg and head coach Peter Laviolette (Nashville), G Jaroslav Halak and C John Tavares (New York Islanders)

NHL CLUB TEAMMATES WHO ARE ALL-STAR GAME OPPONENTS

Chicago Blackhawks: D Duncan Keith and RW Patrick Kane (Team Foligno) vs. G Corey Crawford, D Brent Seabrook and C Jonathan Toews (Team Toews)

St. Louis Blues: G Brian Elliott and D Kevin Shattenkirk (Team Foligno) vs. RW Vladimir Tarasenko (Team Toews)

Philadelphia Flyers: C Claude Giroux (Team Foligno) vs. RW Jakub Voracek (Team Toews)

ALL-STAR GAME OFFICIALS

The referees for today’s game are Chris Lee (#28) and Chris Rooney (#5). Lee, who hails from Saint John, N.B., made his NHL debut in 1999-2000 while Rooney, a Boston native, has worked NHL games since 2000-01. They are joined by linesmen Steve Miller (#89) and Tony Sericolo (#84). Miller, from Stratford, Ont., also started officiating NHL games in 2000-01. Sericolo a native of Troy, N.Y., is the senior member of the crew, having made his League debut on Oct. 21, 1998 (Edmonton at NY Islanders). All four officials are making their All-Star Game debut.

ALL-STAR ENTERTAINMENT

The 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game will feature performances from Grammy Award-nominated and multi platinum selling recording artist Fall Out Boy, rock band O.A.R. and power-pop band Locksley.

Fall Out Boy will perform during the first intermission followed by a performance from Ohio State alumni O.A.R. during the second intermission.

Locksley will perform “The Whip,” its hit single and the song performed after every Columbus Blue Jackets goal, during the NHL All-Star player introductions. Twelve local boys and girls, between the ages of eight and 13 years old, will take part in the player introductions as part of McDonald’s “In the Lineup” program.

NHL SCORING LEADERS AT THE ALL-STAR BREAK

Goals: 1. (tie) Rick Nash, NYR (Team Toews) and Tyler Seguin, DAL (Team Toews), 28; 3. Alex Ovechkin, WSH (Team Foligno), 27.

Assists: 1. Jakub Voracek, PHI (Team Toews), 39; 2. Sidney Crosby, PIT, 36; 3. (tie) Ryan Getzlaf, ANA (Team Toews) and Claude Giroux, PHI (Team Foligno), 35.

Points: 1. Jakub Voracek, PHI (Team Toews), 17-39–56; 2. Tyler Seguin, DAL (Team Toews), 28-24–52; 3. Patrick Kane, CHI (Team Foligno), 22-29–51.

ALL-STAR GAME QUICK HITS

* Twelve players in the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game are under age 25. Thirty-two of the 41 players on both rosters have yet to celebrate their 30th birthday. The youngest 2015 NHL All- Stars are 18-year-old Aaron Ekblad (Florida Panthers/Team Toews, born 2/7/96) and 20-year-old Filip Forsberg (Nashville Predators/Team Toews, born 8/13/94). Ekblad will be the second 18- year-old to skate in the past three NHL All-Star Games, following Jeff Skinner in 2011 in Raleigh, N.C.

* The oldest player among the 2015 NHL All-Stars is 38-year-old Patrik Elias (New Jersey Devils/Team Toews, 4/13/76). Elias leads players from both rosters in career games (1,192), assists (604) and points (1,003).

* The 2015 NHL All-Star with the most career appearances in the midseason classic is Rangers forward Rick Nash (Team Toews) who will be skating in his sixth career game. Following Nash is Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (Team Foligno), who will play in his fifth NHL All-Star Game.

* Nash holds the NHL All-Star Game record for the fastest goal from the start of a game, tallying just 12 seconds into the 2008 contest in Atlanta.

* The 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game MVP will be determined by fans in-arena via a Twitter vote. Three finalists will be announced during the third period. The winner will receive a 2015 Honda Accord EX-L, made in Ohio.

* The last player to win NHL All-Star Game MVP honors in front of his home fans was Canadiens forward Alex Kovalev, in 2009 in Montreal.

* It has been 19 years since a defenseman captured NHL All-Star Game MVP honors (Ray Bourque, 1996) and 21 years since a goaltender won the award (Mike Richter, 1994).

* Penguins forward Mario Lemieux became the first rookie to earn NHL All-Star MVP honors in 1985. Lemieux, 19, notched 2-1—3 in leading the Prince of Wales Conference to a 6-4 win over the Campbell Conference.

* Blue Jackets forward and hometown star Ryan Johansen was the first overall pick in the 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft presented by DraftKings, held on Friday at the Greater Columbus Convention Center. Team Foligno won a ‘puck toss’ to pick first overall, with Nick Foligno selecting linemate and first-time All-Star Johansen. Team Toews chose Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel as its first choice and the second overall selection. Kessel later was traded to Team Foligno in exchange for Stars forward Tyler Seguin, marking the first trade in NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft history.

* The NHL became the first professional sports league to implement an All-Star player fantasy draft to determine team rosters, in 2011 in Raleigh. Eric Staal of the Hurricanes, one of the NHL All-Star captains, selected Hurricanes teammate Cam Ward with the first overall selection. Nicklas Lidstrom of the Red Wings, the other captain, nabbed Steven Stamkos of the Lightning with the second overall pick.

* In 2012 in Ottawa, NHL All-Star captain Zdeno Chara of the Bruins made Pavel Datsyuk of the Red Wings the first overall selection, followed by captain Daniel Alfredsson of the hometown Senators selecting teammate Erik Karlsson with his first pick.