September 29, 2017

Legends of Team Canada: Greg Johnson

One of the late add-ons to Team Canada's 1994 Olympic was NHLer Greg Johnson.

Johnson was a NHL rookie in the 1993-94 season, but he was no stranger to the Canadian national team. After graduating from the University of North Dakota in 1993 he joined the Nats for the remainder of their season plus the World Championships and impressed.

Johnson signed on with the Red Wings in 1993-94 and immediately made the team, though as the season progressed he played more of a minor role as an apprenticing rookie. Meanwhile the national team continued calling the Red Wings to see if they would release him for the Olympics. Feeling it was a good chance for Johnson to get some big minutes of development time, the Wings let Johnson rejoin the Nats a few weeks ahead of the Olympics.

"It's difficult to complain when Steve Yzerman takes some of your ice time," said Johnson, a member of the world champion Canadian junior team in 1992.
"I've really been fortunate in hockey to date to play on some excellent teams and win some championships at all levels. To get the chance to play for Canada in the Olympics is more good luck."
Though Johnson was familiar with the team and the game plan, he played behind the likes of Petr Nedved and Paul Kariya and picked up just three assists in the tournament. For his efforts he was rewarded with the silver medal.
"It was hard to lose the way we did in the shootout," he said. "But years from now this silver medal will very much be a real highlight of my career."
Johnson, a great skater with a good head for the game, went on to flourish in Nashville where he was a long time captain of the Predators. He also played with Pittsburgh and Chicago.
His career was cut short when he was diagnosed with a genetic heart defect in 2006. 

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