Jack Johnson will have a few busy days next week, but there’s no doubt in his mind that it will be worth it. Johnson, a member of the U.S. Olympic hockey team, will play for the Kings on Feb. 11, then fly to Vancouver to march in the opening ceremony on Feb. 12. Afterward, he will fly back to L.A. and play on Feb. 13 and then, soon after, fly back to Vancouver for the start of the Olympic tournament.
Johnson, more than any other Kings player, has spoken with reverence about being selected for the Olympics, and he was granted permission by the Kings to miss practice on Feb. 12, much like Ryan Smyth missed a day of practice last month to participate in the Olympic torch relay. None of the Kings’ other Olympians decided to participate in the ceremony. Here’s what Johnson and Terry Murray said about the opportunity…
JOHNSON: “I got the approval from the Kings organization to do it. They understand that it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and they were very supportive of it. I’ll fly up in the morning and fly back right after the ceremony.”
Question: Do you know of any other players on the team who will march? Brian Burke said he’s going to march.
JOHNSON: “As far as I know, it’s going to be the two of us. Our two guys passed on the opportunity. Bobby Ryan, he couldn’t make it but he really wanted to. As far as I know, it’s just going to be Mr. Burke and myself.”
Question: You obviously consider this a high honor. Was there something about the Olympics that grabbed you at an early age?
JOHNSON: “Yeah, I think everyone knows how big the Olympics are. No matter where you go in the world, if you walk in some place and say you’re an Olympian, they know what you’re talking about. It’s a huge thing. I’ve watched opening ceremonies, closing ceremonies, and to be selected in the Olympics, I’d like to march with the other athletes from my country.”
And here are Murray’s thoughts about Johnson’s participation…
MURRAY: “He has permission from the organization. I think it’s wonderful that he’s going to participate in it. He will fly up and get right back, after the ceremony, for the final game before the Olympic break. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, with the Games in North America. Who knows where the opportunity lies again. It’s something that I think is a great idea, and I’m glad he’s able to do it.”