Chatting with Jack Johnson for the second time in two weeks, it’s fairly apparent that his days as a Los Angeles King are well in his past. The lockout may have shrouded the length of time due to half a season being missed, but he has been a Columbus Blue Jacket for nearly a full calendar year. The one-year anniversary of the trade that brought Jeff Carter to Los Angeles is one week from Saturday.
Still, while Johnson has faced the Kings twice in Ohio, tomorrow’s game will mark his first appearance back at Staples Center since the February 23, 2012 trade. There were a few memorable moments of his last season in L.A. – an overtime game-winner in Stockholm against the New York Rangers, the famous “Tebowing” goal against the Washington Capitals – but rightfully so, his favorite moments as King involve the friendships he made in the dressing room at the Toyota Sports Center and at Staples Center.
On whether there’s anything special about his first game back in Los Angeles:
“Not really, to be honest with you. I’ve already played these guys a couple of times. It’s nothing out of the ordinary now. I know a bunch of the guys. Obviously, I’m good friends with them, but…the novelty’s worn off of playing your old team. It’s just another game now.”
On returning to Toyota Sports Center for practice:
“I’ve been a Blue Jacket for a year now, and obviously there are familiar faces around here and stuff, and I know where I’m going around here, but it’s been too long now. It’s not a surreal thing anymore or a weird thing.”
On the reception he expects from the fans at Staples Center:
“I have no idea. I enjoyed the fans here. I enjoyed my time here, so I don’t think they’d have any hostility towards me. I don’t know if there will really be any reception. I’ve been gone for a while now.”
On his favorite memories as a King:
“I had a couple shots at the playoffs here. Really, my favorite memories are just a couple of the friendships and the teammates that I had along the way here. Those are the memories and things that you take with you for life.”
On leading the league with an average ice time of 28:07:
“Yeah, it’s everything I’ve been preparing for, everything I’ve wanted to do. It’s all I can ask for. I’m just trying to do my best every night to make sure I have a positive say in the game.”