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Avs’ Roy to Johnson: ‘Don’t live in the past’

Sep 11, 2013, 11:03 PM EDT

erikjohnsongetty Getty Images

Being the top pick of an NHL draft cannot be easy. That’s especially true for Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson, who went first in 2006 ahead of the likes of Jonathan Toews, Phil Kessel and Nicklas Backstrom.

Really, there’s nothing the 25-year-old blueliner can do about how well those players are performing. Instead, Avalanche head coach Patrick Roy told the Denver Post that he simply wants him to be the best player he can be.

“Honestly, I’m confident he’s going to have a really good year. The thing is, we’re going to work really hard with him to ‘don’t live in the past.’ It’s now,” Roy said. “Don’t worry about the ‘first overall’ thing. Don’t worry where people say ‘first overall pick’ – it’s over. We want you to be who you are. Erik needs to be Erik Johnson. Go hard, go out there and play his game and be himself.”

Roy said that as much as the team would like to see him make strides defensively, they don’t want him to sacrifice his offensive output.

Johnson peaked in Colorado with 26 points in 2011-12, but he began his NHL career with two straight 30+ point seasons, including a career-high with 39 as a member of the St. Louis Blues in 2009-10.

Sure, to some, Johnson will always be the answer to a trivia question and the catalyst for plenty of “What if?” scenarios, but the Avalanche would be glad to see him simply max out his still-considerable potential.

  1. canucks30 - Sep 11, 2013 at 11:11 PM

    The Blues could have drafted Jonathan “Freakin” Toews instead of letting him go to arguably their arch rival.

    Good job.

    • canucks30 - Sep 12, 2013 at 2:11 AM

      Also, imagine if he went to the Penguins. Jordan Staal was a heck of a player for them but imagine Crosby, Malkin, and Toews lining up in the middle. Wow. That’s almost 80’s Oilers/70’s Habs level of scary.

  2. mp1131211 - Sep 12, 2013 at 12:00 AM

    I like how much the new Avs office is trying getting into the heads of the players in a good way. They see how much this team is lacking in mentality and attitude. I hope they drive home a hard work ethic with these guys too and aren’t shy about sending slackers back down to the farm team. The avs have potential.

    • mcphillthy - Sep 12, 2013 at 12:33 AM

      I always kinda cheer for the avs when they play. I think they have a lot of good young talent on that team but they need a role model and proven veteran to be there and Now they have two hall of fame guys in sakic and roy…. It will do nothing but good things to that organization. Stacked with youth.

  3. rushledger - Sep 12, 2013 at 2:00 AM

    Don’t forget Jordan Staal was an option as well.

  4. icelovinbrotha215 - Sep 12, 2013 at 7:00 AM

    The funny part is that Johnson has been the best D-man from that draft (show how weak the blueline was prospect-wise). Too bad people like Toews, Backstrom, Kessel and Giroux were passed up.

  5. denverwally - Sep 12, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    He’s only 25, its not like he is a bust. D-men usually take longer to develop than forwards. I think he has a long and productive career ahead of him.

    • pfhockey - Sep 12, 2013 at 5:05 PM

      Exactly look at weber and most of the premier defensemen today.

      • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Sep 12, 2013 at 6:37 PM

        Even Chara. He was a big clumsy idiot when he started out. He turned into one of the best defensive d-men ever.

        Johnson is by no means a bust. Would be like calling Chris Phillips a bust in Ottawa. He was a 1st overall pick too. He may not be an offensive superstar, but defensively he’s been one of Ottawa best for years.

  6. pxland - Sep 12, 2013 at 10:59 AM

    I believe in E.J.

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