For a while there we were reliving the glory years and moments of Columbus Blue Jackets’ finest to don the garb. Then the season got going and we got caught up in real, live action for the first time since late last summer.
Well, I’m back with another look at a past Blue Jacket. And coincidentally, this guy brings to mind another more recent ex-Blue Jacket — Pierre-Luc Dubois. But today we’re talking about another former disgruntled center!
For a team in the Blue Jackets that often failed to solidify the No. 1 center position on the team, they had a star in All-Star Ryan Johansen.
Johansen’s start in the NHL and tenure with the Blue Jackets goes all the way back to the 2011-12 season. He broke out offensively in 2013-14 when he played his first full season and scored 33 goals and had 63 points. The 2014-15 campaign saw him set his career marker to date in points with 71.
And of course who can forget the 2015 All-Star Skills Competition when Johansen adorned Ohio State, playing up to the crowd.
Finally, the center that long eluded the franchise was here. For now.
Checking out the numbers
Games played: 660
Penalty Infraction Minutes: 405
Power Play Goal: 29
Power Play Points: 136
Short-handed Goals: 5
Game-Winning Goals: 26
Playoff Games: 57
Playoff Goals: 16
Playoff Assists: 32
Playoff Points: 48
Playoff Game-Winning Goals: 1
There was a lot of fun for No. 19 in Ohio, from the glorious highlights to the 2015 All-Star Skills Competition during All-Star Weekend in Columbus.
(I think playing up to the crowd was a good thing - But you never really see other cities play up their local college teams as much as Columbus with Ohio State, do you).
Things go sour
After contentious negotiations in 2014 between team and star center over his next RFA contract — where have we seen that before? — and resulting holdout that saw Johansen miss parts of training camp, he and the club finally agreed on a three-year contract just ahead of the 2014-15 season. The 0-7 start to the next season cost head coach Todd Richards his job, John Tortorella was instantly brought in, and the friction between team and player only intensified.
There was Tortorella allegedly telling Johansen that he was out of shape, and Johansen was irked that something said within the dressing room was aired out to reporters. Johansen only played one game under Tortorella before missing two games to get checked out for fatigue. He was also not happy to be benched in the third period of a game at the Minnesota Wild, the first game for Torts behind the Columbus bench.
Torts’ nemesis Larry Brooks couldn’t wait to fire this tweet off at the time.
(If you’re not aware of Torts v Brooks or are just in need to relieve some glorious interactions, here you go!).
Ryan Johansen was traded to the Nashville Predators Jan. 6, 2016 for budding star defenseman Seth Jones. Jones was seen as a defenseman with tremendous potential and upside that just didn’t have a steady spot in Nashville due to the surplus of defenseman they possessed, and we’ve seen Jones blossom into a Norris-type candidate.
On the other side, Johansen was the No. 1 center that Nashville long-sought, and helped lead the Preds deep into the 2016-17 playoffs. He tied for the team-lead in points (61) during the regular season, leading the team with 47 assists. Johansen also led the team with 50 assists, 64 points during the 2018-19 season.
After an injury in the 16-17 Western Conference Final — acute compartment syndrome — which left Johansen needing emergency surgery and ending his season, the Predators went onto the Stanley Cup Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Later that summer, Johansen was signed to the-then richest contract in Predators history (8-$64 million).
In the years since the trade, Johansen has said things were ‘good’ with Tortorella but we all remember the way things were seemingly heading — again, it’s crazy how similar.
In his first game back to Columbus as a member of the Predators, he was never acknowledged with any kind of official team-tribute — which seemed to rub him wrong. Per The Tennessean, “I was a little disappointed they didn’t put anything on the (scoreboard) to say thank you or anything like that. I think we all know who made that call, but whatever.”
In the end, the result of the trade worked out well for both teams. A rare win-win trade.
While he hasn’t been the goal-scorer in Nashville that he looked to be at the time in Columbus, he has been a facilitator notching at least 50 points with the exception of last year’s shortened season when he had 38 points in 68 games.
Also, did Johansen ever replace the basketball court?