Ryan Johansen & The Next Step
After a fantastic performance throughout All Star Weekend, Ryan Johansen has cemented his place as an NHL Star. But the Blue Jackets want more.
There's no question that the city of Columbus was a big winner after All Star Weekend, but Ryan Johansen cleaned up pretty well, too.
First pick at the Fantasy draft, winner of the breakaway challenge, and winner of three twitter popular votes, including the overall All Star Game MVP award (which, let's be honest, was highway robbery), and named the first star of the week by the NHL to top it all off.
Not bad, considering the turmoil of this past offseason.
After all the turmoil of his offseason holdout, Johansen came into this season with intent, and at this point is well on his way to another 30+ goal season.
So why are we hearing about the organization demanding more?
The answer isn't just that they see Johansen as needing to become "a complete player" - it's that they want him to be more than a player. When the team asks him to look at guys like Toews, Kane, and Stamkos, that's a pretty clear message.
These are guys who are certainly excellent players, and certainly "faces" of their respective franchises, but those three in particular take it to another level. Those three aren't just ambassadors for a single team - they're representatives of the NHL as an organization. I'd even argue that their performances in the Olympics and other international competitions have made them representatives of hockey as a sport.
That's not to say that they've always been there - Kane, in particular, has had more than a few...problems in his past, and he's had a lot of growing up to do. But these days they're players with massive name recognition, and quite a bit of respect.
So can Johansen make it to that level?
There's no question he has the skills - the last two seasons have shown that he's capable of playing at an elite level, and his performance this weekend showed not only ability, but the great personality that we've been able to see come out as he's become a larger voice in the room.
The missing piece - as was suggested by the Yahoo article - seems to be a level of maturity. The ability to play hard on both sides of the puck and have fun, but also know how to present yourself, win or lose, with professionalism and grace at all times.
He has to be prepared to represent a lot more than himself.
This weekend was a pretty positive step in that direction, but it's pretty easy to be a great "face" during a weekend long party where it all comes up Millhouse.
Now he's back to playing for a team that's suffered some major setbacks this year, that's scrapping for even the hope of a playoff chance, and has just lost their star goalie.
The way he responds, on ice and off, will tell us quite a bit about how Ryan Johansen has matured over the past couple of years - and how much he's been paying attention to the players that have been pointed out as examples to emulate.
I suspect the organization will be watching very carefully.