Jul 10, 2010, 7:30 PM EDT
Jack 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.)
- Blue Jackets GM to Johansen: It’s about the team, not ‘one guy’ 16
- Will the NHL publicize divers? 46
- Report: NHL, Epix network to partner on Winter Classic reality series 16
- Habs to play without captain for just second time in franchise history 16
- Chiarelli: At some point, I’m going to have to trade a defenseman 44
- Devils post-Martin Brodeur era about to truly start 9
- Report: Rangers expected to announce captain on Thursday 12
- Snider: Flyers not hiding behind ‘horrible mistake’ of signing Bryzgalov 21
- P.K. Subban: ‘I’m not trying to change the game of hockey’ 24
- Demand for Canucks tickets plummeting according to broker 39