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Greg Johnson, former NHL center, dies at 48

Was captain of Predators from 2002-06, also played for Red Wings, Penguins, Blackhawks @NHLdotcom

Greg Johnson, who was captain of the Nashville Predators from 2002-06, died Monday. He was 48.

Johnson, a center, had 238 points (93 goals, 145 assists) in seven seasons with the Predators from 1998-2006, including an NHL career-high 50 points (16 goals, 34 assists) in 1998-99.

"Greg was a big part of establishing the identity of the franchise," former Predators goalie Chris Mason told USA Today. "... He was one of the nicest guys I've ever met. He was the kind of guy that Predators [officials] wanted their other players to be like on or off the ice."

Johnson was selected by Nashville in the 1998 NHL Expansion Draft from the Chicago Blackhawks and was alternate captain from 1999-2002.

"The entire Nashville Predators organization is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Greg Johnson," the Predators said in a statement. "Greg was an original Predator, coming to us in the expansion draft and serving as the team's second-ever team captain, and first Predators captain to lead the team to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. During his time in Nashville, he was a consummate professional and terrific teammate who was an integral part of our community and in developing the Predators culture that we experience today. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Kristin and his daughters Carson and Piper. We offer our full support to them at this very difficult time."

Video: Taking a moment to remember Greg Johnson

Selected by the Philadelphia Flyers in the second round (No. 33) of the 1989 NHL Draft, Johnson had 369 points (145 goals, 224 assists) in 785 regular-season games with the Predators, Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Detroit Red Wings, and 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 37 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

He won a silver medal with Canada at the 1994 Lillehammer Olympics.

"He did everything well," Mason said. "You put him on the power play, he'd find a way to be successful. Put him on the penalty kill, he'd be your best penalty-killer. He was not the biggest player, but he'd go into the corners and outwork you."

Johnson played four years at the University of North Dakota from 1989-93 and was a three-time finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top men's player in NCAA ice hockey. He is North Dakota's leading scorer with 272 points (74 goals, 198 assists) in 155 games and was inducted into its Hall of Fame in 2013.

"The UND hockey family is saddened to learn of Greg Johnson's passing," North Dakota coach Brad Berry said. "Our heart-felt sympathies and thoughts are with Greg's family and loved ones at this difficult time. He was a Hall of Fame athlete and more importantly, a Hall of Fame man. He will be greatly missed."

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