After missing most of last season with injuries, Erik Johnson is looking to make his return to the ice for the 2021-22 campaign.
The veteran has been in the league since 2007 and being an older guy compared to Colorado's younger roster, Johnson brings intangibles to the squad, both on and off the ice.
"He's great. He's played a long time, got drafted in 2006 so, it's great to have veterans around. We're a young team still, we have a lot of young guys, so we need that veteran presence," said forward Nathan MacKinnon "It's actually really important I think to have him around, he'll keep things light, but you know, when things aren't going well, he'll speak up and speak his mind and hold guys accountable. He's also a great guy to have around and a really good hockey player, great penalty killer, good guy, so I'm excited for him to be back."
Taken as the first overall pick in the 2006 draft, Johnson is a well-respected veteran in the game. With his experience in the NHL and his relationships with the staff and his teammates, Johnson is a leader on the squad and someone the new guys can put their trust in on and off the ice. Though he is one of the older players, he is not one to let that stop him from having fun and enjoying time with the team.
"I just like to have fun. I think we play a high tempo, stressful, emotional sport," Johnson said. "If you just look at the big picture you got to keep things in perspective and remember how lucky we are… Have fun with the guys. I'm old on our team but not old in life."
In 2020-21, Johnson missed the beginning of the year in COVID protocol and suffering a head injury in his fourth game of the year, Johnson is ready to be back on the ice and is putting in work with the team. The 33-year-old defenseman had begun practicing back with the team towards the end of the playoff run this past season preparing for his return to the ice.
"I was training with the team throughout the end of the playoffs and was anticipating coming back if we got a little further, whether that would have happened obviously we wont know. I would say I was ready to go about the middle of July…" said Johnson. "From there I trained like I always have with the staff and got ready. (General manager) Joe (Sakic) called me and said that we need you this year and we are excited to have you back.
"Usually you come into camp as an older guy and you're not too excited, but I've been just invigorated and super excited to get back out there and play with the guys in camp and preseason. It's all exciting, so im just happy to get back out thtere."
Having a positive attitude returning to training camp after a long break like Johnson has is imperative for the chemistry of the team. He is looking as though he is ready to be back out there to help Colorado succeed this season.
Additionally, Erik Johnson sees potential in the new guys and where they are able to take the game in the future.
"Bo is great, the sky is the limit for him. He kind of went through his own injury trouble last year... He is only going to get better and better. If I can help expedite that process by playing with him, I'll be glad to do so," Johnson said of Bowen Byram. "I think the most important thing is he has a good attitude and wants to get better. I think he has improved since last year and if you have the willingness to learn and you have the talent like that you are only going to improve, so I think that sky is the limit for him.
"What once was kind of a weak spot for our organization on the back end is now probably one of our strengths so it's nice to see all the depth we have back there."
With less than a month until the regular season begins, Johnson is preparing for a major comeback to the squad. Having 82 games ahead of him it is going to be quite the season for this veteran and his return to the ice.