Upgrade Your Fandom

Join the Ultimate DNVR Sports Community!

Erik Johnson hopes this is the year - to stay fully healthy

Adrian Dater Avatar
September 15, 2018

He has been with the Avalanche since Feb. 19, 2011, when that middle-of-the-night trade happened with the St. Louis Blues. We’re more than seven years into his stay with the Avs, which makes Erik Johnson something of the team’s wise sage. Notice, the word “old” wasn’t thrown in.

Despite turning 30 in March, Johnson retains a youthful look – and demeanor. The game of hockey is still a load of fun for him. Except, when he’s hurt.

At no time in his Avs tenure did things hurt more than last spring, when the team made the playoffs and he couldn’t participate.

“It was really, really hard,” Johnson said.

It had been a long, tough four years since the Minnesota native had last tasted playoff hockey and he was as responsible as anyone in helping the Avs get back to it, when the injuries hit. First, there was a freak shoulder injury late in a game with Edmonton. That put him out for about a month, and not long into his return came a season-ending broken bone in his leg. Well, if the Avs had managed to win a couple of playoff rounds, Johnson said he might have been able to return for the Western Conference finals.

Now, Johnson said he is 100 percent, good to go. There hasn’t appeared to have been any loss of speed for the big defenseman, the NHL’s first overall selection by St. Louis in 2006. The Avs are deeper on defense, so Johnson might not have to play the kind of heavy minutes he did last year (25:26 per, seventh in the league). But he’s ready to do so if necessary.

“I feel great,” he said. “Just ready to get going. I still think I have a lot of miles left.”

Longtime Avalanche fans such as Dario Ronzone seem to think so, after seeing him in camp so far:

Johnson, who will again be an alternate captain, played 62 games last season, 46 the one before that and only 47 in 2014-15. The injuries have been things that just happen in games, nothing to do with lack of conditioning or anything. He said he explored some areas that might help prevent injuries, but otherwise he knows it’s just a luck-of-the-draw thing mostly.

As a team, Johnson said “I think we might have caught some teams by surprise. We know they’re going to be ready for us this year.” That’s why, he said, his team has to be even hungrier than last year.

“We want to go deeper in the playoffs,” Johnson said. “That’s our goal.”

Scroll to next article

Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?
Don't like ads?