Skip to content

Jack Johnson pursues a degree at Michigan when he's off the ice

Jul 10, 2010, 7:30 PM EST

jackjohnsonshoots.jpgJack Johnson is a specimen of a defenseman, but sometimes his high-risk, high-reward style gives him a bit of a “shaggy dog” reputation. While he has some learning to do in his own end, he also acknowledges that he’d like to hit the books off the ice too. In a nice (and sadly rare) story, Johnson is working toward earning his degree at his former school, the University of Michigan. Ann Arbor.com has more.

Each summer, the fourth-year Los Angeles Kings defenseman returns to Ann Arbor, enrolls in summer school and continues to chip away at his general studies degree. Although he hasn’t experienced life as a full-time student for three years, Johnson relishes his time on campus.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” Johnson said on Thursday. “If it was easy, everyone who left would do it. I’m not in a race to get it, but I know if I stop, it will be hard to start up again.

“I can’t play hockey forever, unfortunately. I will have the second half of my life ahead of me, and I want that degree.”

During the NHL season, Johnson, who is 23, takes classes online, using off-days to study and complete coursework. Technology, including video conferencing and Web tutorials, has made distance learning easier, but balancing school with an NHL career isn’t easy.

It’s funny that Johnson is maintaining his connection to his college hockey days and his coach Red Berenson because, not too long ago, a surprisingly candid story surfaced in which Kings GM Dean Lombardi discussed the young defenseman’s lack of structure with the Wolverines.

When people discuss the Kings’ troubles in landing Ilya Kovalchuk, Johnson is often cited alongside star Drew Doughty and rugged forward Wayne Simmonds as players Lombardi would hope to keep. My guess is that those wounds will heal up at some point, but you have to wonder if Johnson has any hard feelings toward the franchise.

Either way, it’s a nice story even if it’s a bit sad that it’s such a rare occurrence in hockey and all sports, really.

(H/T to Cassie from Raw Charge.)

  1. Josh - Jul 11, 2010 at 12:35 PM

    Jack Johnson continues to be an enigma – this is a guy who refused to leave Michigan early to play in the top pairing for Carolina, the then-defending Cup champs! Then, he didn’t even finish his degree, went pro, and now he wants the degree again? Or maybe he just didn’t want to play in Carolina? Either way, this is only mildly admirable, contra the OP, because there is a word for the Jack Johnsons of the world:
    FLAKES.

Featured video

Eakins on his way out of Edmonton?

Sign up for Fantasy hockey

Top 10 NHL Player Searches
  1. S. Crosby (2779)
  2. V. Hedman (2767)
  3. P. Datsyuk (2492)
  4. D. Krejci (2244)
  5. P. Sharp (2205)
  1. B. Elliott (2006)
  2. Z. Chara (1849)
  3. S. Varlamov (1808)
  4. R. McDonagh (1769)
  5. B. Dubinsky (1704)