By: Russell Brooks
Mike Johnson made his 500th NHL game memorable with a power play goal early in a 3-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche Wednesday night at Glendale Arena.
"It's a nice milestone to reach," said the Scarborough, Ontario, native. "It's gone fast and has been a lot of fun. When I first started, I didn't imagine I would have played 500 games."
Johnson was acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning with Paul Mara, Ruslan Zainullin and a 2nd round choice in the 2001 Entry Draft for Nikolai Khabibulin and Stan Neckar on March 5, 2001.
Johnson's breakthrough season came in 2002-2003 when led the Coyotes in goals (23), assists (40) and points (63), which were all career highs for the 6'2", 201 pound, right winger.
After only playing in 11 games in 2003-2004 due to shoulder surgery, Johnson is stronger than ever and has found a home with current line mates Mike Comrie and Ladislav Nagy.
"Both guys are skilled guys that work well with the puck and are creative," said Johnson. "I try and create space for both of them and let them do their thing."
Coyotes Head Coach Wayne Gretzky knows what he is getting out of Johnson every night.
"Mike is pretty much the same every night," said Gretzky. "He plays hard, kills penalties for us, and plays on the power play. He's on of the guys on my team that gives me an honest effort every night."
While 500 games is a milestone any NHL players would be happy to achieve, Johnson doesn't have any plans of slowing down now that he has reached the mark.
"It's a nice number (500), hopefully there will be many more to come," said Johnson.