This is the second part of a series of articles featuring Q&A sessions with Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson. He sat down with radio host Bob McElligott to discuss the joys of fatherhood, getting into hockey mode and more. You can read Part I HERE.
McElligott: What have you been up to in the last couple of weeks?
Johnson: Just hanging out at home. I'm kind of a home body. We've got a one-and-a-half-year-old at home, and we're actually expecting our second one any day now, so I'm just hanging out at home with the family.
McElligott: So you're just getting the grasp of the first one and now it's time to add to it?
Johnson: Yeah, well, we have a little girl and now we're expecting a little boy, so I think we're done now that we have one of each.
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McElligott: You know, I run into people on the street, and I had somebody just say to me the other day, he goes, "You know, it really stinks that the Blue Jackets lost. Especially to Pittsburgh, but at least they did win the Stanley Cup." As a player, you're in a hard fought series, and you know that you outplayed them in many aspects of the game, does that bug you that they won?
Johnson: I mean, yeah. It would bug me if anyone else won. To be honest I think that, from casually watching a couple of series, they got outplayed in a lot of games but found a way to win. And that's what it's all about. We really went into the series this year against Pittsburgh extremely confident. We were excited that we got Pittsburgh in the first round. We were fully going into it expecting to win and with all of the right attitudes. We came out in game one like gangbusters and it just didn't work out for us for whatever reason, but we were definitely excited to get them in the first round.
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McElligott: How much did you watch after getting eliminated? Did you watch any after that, or are you one of those guys that kind of shuts it off and walks away for a while?
Johnson: I'm not one of those guys that wouldn't watch if it's on TV, but I didn't seek it out. I didn't revolve my evenings around game time or anything like that, but if I was out somewhere and it was on, you know, I'd glance to see what the score was and see what teams I thought would go through and what teams I thought would go through but didn't. As a hockey player, I'm a hockey fan, too. So you know, I was seeing who would win the series. I wouldn't watch the individual games but it was still interesting to me.
McElligott: One thing that I couldn't help but think of as I watched the games in the Stanley Cup Final, every time they showed Nashville, it was the excitement of the fans. Every time I would see it I thought, how great would it be to see Nationwide Boulevard blocked off, completely filled with fans watching TV screens in that kind of a series in this town.
Johnson: Yeah, for sure. I thought it was great for Nashville to see that and great for the league, great for hockey. Having seen our building even just in the first round, I mean, I thought our building was way better than Pittsburgh's building… It wasn't even close. You talk about home ice advantage and all that but Pittsburgh's building wasn't a tough place to play. The team was tough, but it wasn't a tough building to play in. Our building was awesome. It was rocking. I've played in a few different playoff buildings in my career, and this has been by far the best playoff building in both playoff years that we have been here.
McElligott: From a player standpoint, when the building is full and it's rocking, how much does it mean to you guys on the bench, whether you're trying to hold a lead or come back from a one goal lead?
Johnson: Oh yeah, you know the difference between a full building and a half empty building. Even when it's full, if the fans are into it, it's awesome. It makes end of the games exciting, it makes the start of games exciting, and you can just feel that there's a little something extra in the building. You can even feel the games during the regular season, some games are more meaningful than other games to the fans, whether it's a local rivalry with Detroit or Pittsburgh. Those games you can feel it with the fans, how badly they want those games. It makes it fun for us. You know, we want to play in front of a packed house, we want to play in front of fans that are into it, and we want to reward them by winning. We want to win as much for ourselves as we want to for the city of Columbus that we represent, and we're proud to do it.
McElligott: As you mentioned, you're about to have your second child any day now. At what point will you go into full-hockey mode? What time of the summer do you usually get into that?
Johnson: I don't know that I'm ever really out of it to be honest. I usually start skating at the end of the 4th of July, I do that every summer. I'll start skating a couple of times a week, start skating more in August and then in September you're on the ice five days a week going into camp. But I've been training since probably early May. So you go in every day to train, you go in every day to the weight room and you're doing it for a reason, you're preparing for a reason. So you've always got it in the back of your head and you know you're down there training for a reason. So I don't think hockey is ever fully out of your head. You might not be skating, but you always know that you're preparing again for something.