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by Staff Writer / Los Angeles Kings

BRIAN BURKE - GM USA Hockey: “We have two players joining us on the call, I think it’s proof of how USA Hockey has grown the talent pool that we have two players, one a veteran, Eric Cole, along with Jack Johnson, who is a terrific young defenseman and I’m grateful to those two for not only joining us on the ice but also joining us on the call today.”

JACK JOHNSON: “I’m honored and proud to be able to put on that jersey again and looking forward to playing with such great players again. In all my past experiences with USA Hockey they’ve been nothing short of great and I’m looking forward to being able to put on that sweater again. Last year at the World Juniors, I wasn’t sure if it was the last chance I’d get and I’m just honored that you guys are giving me the opportunity to do it again and I’m looking forward to being able to come out with a Gold Medal and have the opportunity to.”

Q: “I’m just curious Jack what your first few weeks in the NHL were like for you and what changed for you after your sophomore year where you were willing to sign when you wanted to go back after your freshman year. Just kind of talk me through that process and also what your introduction to the NHL was like.”

JACK JOHNSON: “Yeah well obviously my first few days there were pretty incredible. My head was kind of spinning the first few days, you know, walking in and seeing guys like Rob Blake and guys I grew up watching and idolizing. But all the older guys were extremely nice to me and took me in and made it a lot easier than it could have been in terms of fitting in in the locker room. The first couple of games I was nervous but towards the end of the year I felt like I fit in and felt pretty normal out there and was just playing hockey. In terms of feeling when I was ready, at the end of my freshman year I didn’t feel I was ready to make that jump, obviously the NHL is the elite level and I didn’t feel I was ready yet to play in the NHL. The end of my sophomore season I felt I was ready to accept that challenge, it had nothing to do with what team I was with, it was just a gut feeling that I had and I feel like I made the right decision when I felt like I was ready for that next step.”

Q: “Jack, first of all, could you just talk a little bit about what this whole process the last couple of weeks has been like for you. You talked a little bit about your introduction to the NHL, but what about the end of your season and your career at Michigan, which I know is very important to you and your family and then coming back after the end of the season and now getting ready to go off to Moscow. The whole sum of it, you talked about your head spinning those couple of days in the NHL, is that what it’s been like these two weeks pretty much?”

JACK JOHNSON: “No, no. I settled down pretty quickly when I got there just because everybody was great and made me feel comfortable there. And there was a young group of guys, some guys I’ve played with before like (Patrick) O’Sullivan and (Michael) Cammalleri, but yeah it was obviously a disappointing way to end the season at Michigan. I felt like I had given it my best shot and it was a tough loss we had, we lost to a good team in North Dakota, but obviously there was an upside to it, I found out shortly after that that I would be given the opportunity to wear the U.S. sweater again, and given the chance to play in the National Hockey League. I’ve settled down nicely now, it’s a pretty grounding experience when you turn around and head back to class. My head is not spinning anymore.”

BRIAN BURKE: “Let me step back and just mention one thing about Jack Johnson, for Jack to say he felt comfortable, he sure looked comfortable, I can tell you that. He looked just fine in an NHL sweater and he’s going to be a good player. This is a testament to me to USA hockey’s decision to establish an under-18 program and the quality of players that are coming through that program. Jack is a little modest I think at times, which is a wonderful thing, but this guy is going to be a wonderful player.”

Q: “This question is for Jack. I was just wondering, you had a lot of experience with the U.S. program as a junior player and actually you’ve had a lot of success, the most success a generation of players has had in a long time. How much of that will carry over to this tournament since you’ll be such a younger guy playing with more experienced players?”

JACK JOHNSON: “I expect my experience from USA hockey and the results I had in Ann Arbor are going to help tremendously. I’m not going to be a stranger to international games and how competitive they are and how much pride is on the line when you put on those jerseys. It’ll be nice playing with other guys I’ve played with before like Phil (Kessell) and Cory (Schneider) and those guys are competitors and we’re looking forward to getting back into the fire of international play.”
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