September 08, 2015

Marshall Johnston

Marshall Johnston was a veteran of 7 NHL season from 1968 to 1974. But after graduating from the University of Denver in 1963 Johnston was a constant part of Father David Bauer's Canadian National Team program of the 1960s. Marshall, who played under Bauer from 1963 until 1968, was a stereotypical defenseman on Bauer's team - stay-at-home blueliner.

Johnston's trophy case is highlighted by his days with the Canadian Nats. He won bronze at both the 1966 and 1967 World Championships and a bronze as team captain at the 1968 Grenoble Olympics. Marshall, who also played in the 1964 Olympics, was a star at the Grenoble games. He led Canada with 6 assists and his 8 points was second only to forward Fran Huck's 9 points.

Following his Olympic experience, Marshall opted to turn professional with the Minnesota North Stars where he played sparingly for 4 seasons. He actually saw more time at the AHL level where he excelled. 1970-71 was particularly memorable for him as he was named the best d-man in the league and a first team all star.

Following his AHL all star year, Marshall was traded to the California Golden Seals via the Montreal Canadiens. It was a great move for Marshall who played regularly with the Seals for the next three seasons. While the Seals weren't exactly a contender, it was just an honor for Marshall to finally make the big time, even if that meant playing as a utility forward at times.

Johnston was a wonderful skater - one of the few Canadians who could effortlessly keep up with the Soviets and other top European players. He was very heady, but not very physical.

Gerry Pinder, a teammate of Johnston's both internationally and in the NHL, described his good friend as a player.

"He was like a father figure to the team. A good defenseman with good instincts. He moved the puck out of our zone. He was a steadying influence on a young team. He was a pretty serious guy."

Gary Croteau, a teammate in California, described him as "a student of the game. He wasn't real aggressive but he would take the man and would stick his nose in and get involved. He was steady. You wouldn't necessarily notice him much but when you grade him out you would never find many mistake he made. He always did his job but in a non-spectacular fashion."

Johnston turned to coaching with the California Golden Seals during the 1974-75 season before becoming head coach of Denver University, his Alma Mater, for four seasons. There he led the Pioneers to the WCHA title and being named the Conference Coach of the Year in 1976-77.

Johnston joined the Colorado Rockies as assistant general manager and assistant coach on May 4, 1981 and served as head coach for the final 56 games of the 1981-82 season. After the franchise moved to New Jersey, he remained with the club as an assistant coach until being promoted director of player personnel.

One of his main responsibilities in New Jersey was running the scouting department, and his track record there is impeccable. During his 10 years heading New Jersey's scouting department, the Devils drafted, among others, Scott Niedermayer, Brian Rolston, Martin Brodeur, Bill Guerin, Zdeno Ciger, Brendan Shanahan, Craig Wolanin, Sean Burke, Kirk Muller and Kirk McLean.

Marshall joined the Ottawa Senators in July 1996 as director of player personnel. He worked through his first season in 1996-97 with the Senators' pro and amateur scouts and guided the staff during the 1997 NHL Entry Draft. He is largely credited with the Sens picking of Marian Hossa 12th overall in 1997.

After three seasons he decided it was time to spend time with his wife and two grown daughters. He went on to scout in Chicago and Carolina, including in 2006 when the Hurricanes won the Stanley Cup.

His NHL contributions may have been more profound off the ice, but internationally he was a well respected star. He is an honoured member of the International Hockey Hall of Fame.

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