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JOHNSON HONOURED WITH PETER MAHER AWARD

The annual award goes to the Flames player for co-operation with the media covering the team

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames / CalgaryFlames.com

Chad Johnson arrived here too late to actually be part of a "Yeah, baby!" Peter Maher moment.

But he heard plenty.

"I remember being a kid, whether driving to my grandma's, to Drumheller, or heading off somewhere for a hockey tournament, you'd turn on the radio and hear his voice,'' the Calgary Flames' goaltender was reminiscing Monday morning, post-skate.

"Then, during the '04 run, if you weren't near a TV, you'd have the game on the radio, and he'd call a goal, by (Jarome) Iginla or whoever and everyone would start honking their horns.

"How cool is that?

"It's special, to have your name on an award that also has Peter Maher's name on it. Because he'll always be remembered in this city, always be associated with the Flames."

Monday, Johnson, reared in the city's southeast Deer Ridge neighborhood, received the Peter Maher "Good Guy" Award, given annually to a Flames player for co-operation with the media covering the team.

On behalf of the Calgary media, a donation was made to the Calgary Flames Foundation on Johnson's behalf.

Maher, as everyone hereabouts knows, was the winter soundtrack for two generations of local NHL fans. He retired from broadcasting in late April of 2014 after calling 3,100 NHL games, most recently for The Fan 960, never having missed an assignment.

Sportsnet's Roger Millions hit the bullseye when describing the award.

"With Peter, it was always about the game of hockey. It was never about everyone else. It was never about me or I.

"His integrity, his dedication, his respect is part and parcel why we're presenting this award for a fourth consecutive year."

Another Calgary product, centre Joe Colborne, whose Colorado Avalanche just happened to be in town Monday night, received the hardware in each of its first three years.

Nine different Flames received votes for 2017. A panel of reporters submitting their top three choices to select a winner.

Johnson certainly fits every criteria. One of the few goaltenders who talks to media on the morning of starts, in his first year as since arriving from Buffalo, he's been an unfailing resource for the digital, TV and print people in an effort to tell stories of games, situations and individual players.

"Being from Calgary, the media is sort of your eyes into the team, the NHL,'' he said.

"It's not easy at times, to do interviews after games. But it's always a responsibility I've felt was important. Regardless of whether you win or lose, whether things go your way or don't go your way.

"It's part of your responsibility as an NHL hockey player. I've always tried to respect your job.

"Peter Maher was a huge influence on how I interpreted the game. His voice.

"It's quite an honour to get this award and to meet (Maher)."

Along with "Yeah, baby!" another of Peter Maher's unforgettable calls on Flames' broadcasts through the years was his trademark: "You can put it in the win column!"

In selecting Chad Johnson, voters did just that.

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