The Lombardi-Michigan-Johnson story got fresh legs today when Johnson, after the morning skate, was met by a small pack of reporters. To refresh, Lombardi, in a recent interview, had harsh criticism for the University of Michigan hockey program and used it in describing Johnson’s progress as an NHL player. Johnson took strong exception to the comments and publicly lashed out at Lombardi as being “irresponsible and unprofessional.”
Here’s how the exchange went with Johnson today…
Question: Did you get a chance to talk to Dean?
JOHNSON: “I did, before the Buffalo game. I asked to see him before the game and, you know, talked to him about it then. I’ve spoken my piece about it. I don’t really have anything else to say about it, other than what I said. I think if you guys want any more comments, you should talk to Dean. He’s the one who made the comments.”
Question: Dean explained it by saying it was background information that was meant to compliment you…
JOHNSON: “(long pause) OK.”
Question: Kind of a backhanded compliment?
JOHNSON: “Like I said, I spoke my piece about it. I’m not going to say anything else about it. If there’s anything else to be said, it should come from Dean.”
Question: Do you feel like your relationship with him has been damaged?
JOHNSON: “Well, I don’t know. Like I said, I spoke my piece about it. That’s how I felt about it. I really don’t have anything further to say about that. If you guys want any other information, you can go to Dean.”
This story, it seems, is finally running out of steam. I haven’t changed my opinion of it since yesterday morning. Lombardi didn’t need to make the comments — regardless of their truth or whether or not he intended them to be “background” information — and Johnson, even if understandably hurt, could have taken the high road. No winners in this one.
On a more pleasant note, Johnson spent Friday night at the Michigan-Ferris State game (Michigan won 2-0) and afterward got to spend the night at his family’s home…
JOHNSON: “I went to see a couple close friends, family and former teammates, and went home for the night. … I got to sleep in my own bed. Really nice. You don’t often get a chance to go home during the year, so it was a nice chance for me to go home and see a lot of friends and get a chance to catch up with some people.”