Well, ol' Jack Johnson is going to be here a little bit longer. The irascible chipmunk signed a 7-year deal, meaning he's going to be a King through 2018. That means 7 more years of that face right up there. I'm not the biggest fan of Jack Johnson (as you're probably aware) but I'm able to put aside my personal feelings about his play to recognize that he's good at hockey and an asset to the team, depending on how you use him.
Right now Johnson's the Kings' easy minute muncher, a guy that you can put out against another team's bottom-six and count on for a few offensive chances. He's been put in a shutdown role 3 different times this season, with disastrous results. It's funny, it's never Johnson who looks bad, it's always his teammate; I think Rob Scuderi, Matt Greene, and Drew Doughty have had their worst stretches of hockey while paired with Johnson this season. (Oddly enough, the one person who looks good next to Johnson is Peter Harrold.)
To me, Johnson has kind of overcorrected from his early, risk-taking days; now he tends to sink to far back to his goaltender and then just kind of stand there. He's not doing anything wrong, per se, but he's not doing anything right either. He needs to be sealing off his man, clearing the crease... basically, he needs to be doing what Willie Mitchell does on a nightly basis. That will improve but there's little chance Johnson can ever be considered a shutdown defenseman.
You can see, though, that he's starting to figure it out. It's interesting to compare Johnson's career to someone like Dion Phaneuf. They're pretty similar players: big & fast, great shot, kinda dumb. Phaneuf came out like a rocket and dominated because he was so much better physically than everyone else, only to sink back to the pack as people began to figure him out. Johnson struggled early but is slowly figuring out everyone else. Now they're kind of at the same point, only Johnson will be paid $2 million less a season for the foreseeable future. If he can continue to develop defensively then he'll be a steal for the Kings.
With Johnson locked up long-term, the Kings are set up pretty well for the future on the back end. They have Johnson, Greene, and will have Doughty locked up, giving them an anchor on all 3 defensive pairings. Doughty will get veteran shutdown d-man to play with him, Greene will get young, left-handed d-man to play with him, and Johnson... I'm not sure. The Kings can't seem to decide if Johnson is better on the left or right side, which obviously determines his defensive partner. One idea that makes me tingle in a naughty area? Jack Johnson with Colten Teubert. Just think about it... hey, where's your hand going? You pervert!
What do those 3 players have in common? Answer at the bottom of the post.
I'm going to the game tonight with my mom for her birthday. (Worst son in the world? Probably.) My mom actually wanted to go because A) she's cool and likes hockey, and B) she's Canadian and tonight's Canadian Pride Night. I'm always conflicted about stuff like this because I'm pretty jingoistic about my Americanism but I probably wouldn't be a hockey fan if it weren't for the Canadian half of my family. I guess one of the cool things about being from the New World is that our ancestry doesn't have to add up to 100%. I can be 100% American, 50% Canadian, 25% Norwegian, 25% Scottish, and 200% awesome.
Anyway, my grandfather used to go to Canadian Pride Night for early Kings games and even Blades games back in the day. He was born in Norway, came through Ellis Island, moved to Canada, enlisted in the army when he was 17, got shot through the hip in Italy, came home, met my grandmother, had 3 kids and moved to Azusa to work on airplanes. He used to meet with other veterans of the war, get drunk, and board a bus to go to Kings games, where they'd usually cheer for the Maple Leafs. He ruled and was twice the man I am, which makes sense since he's twice as Canadian. I can't go to a game with him but I can stand like he would've and, half-drunk, belt out the Canadian national anthem. Go Grandpa, go Canada, go Kings.
Trivia answer: They all have syphillis. Probably got it when they were on the Kings.
Prediction: Kings win, 5-2. Goals by Doughty, Smyth (x2), Williams and Clifford.