One day after getting the attention of the hockey world when they brought Hall of Fame defenseman Larry Robinson into the fold as an associate coach, the San Jose Sharks made another exciting addition to their coaching staff on Tuesday.
Jim Johnson has joined the organization, and his addition brings another experienced hand into the coach’s office. You’ll likely see that he’s 49 years old, a 14-year NHL veteran, another former defenseman, and a man who has coached internationally for USA Hockey, for Lugano in Switzerland and with several NHL teams, including the Washington Capitals where he assisted Dale Hunter last season.
But I want to focus on the apropos age, 49. That intersects with my first thought upon hearing the name, Jim Johnson. Now that Jim is here, I’ll have to have him solve a little question that I have concerning him.
It was during one of the Cow Palace seasons. The Sharks were an exciting, new expansion team with more enthusiasm than wins and everyone was coming to Daly City to check out the Bay Area’s new sports arrival.
The locker rooms at the Cow Palace are upstairs, and there was a large loading dock area between them where players from both teams used to congregate after games ended to catch up. It was here on one occasion when the Minnesota North Stars were in town, that I watched a player, cane in hand and clearly recovering from surgery, hobble his way up to the entrance to the building.
It was at that moment that the number “49” and Jim Johnson came together all those years ago. The player in question was not a hockey player, but he hobbled up to me and said, “I’m looking for Jim Johnson. He’s a friend of mine.”
The player in question was none other than San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Bono, who apparently became acquainted with Johnson when both were in Pittsburgh while Bono was understudying for the Steelers and Johnson was playing for Burgh Hockey.
Johnson is a good team man who will be a sound addition to the Sharks. Given that Steve Bono and family live in Palo Alto, I guess that Johnson has some built in friends who will show him around. It may also mean that Bono could be stopping by HP Pavilion every once in a while, but hopefully he won’t be doing it after banging up his knee and requiring surgery.
But on a most serious side, the additions of both Larry Robinson and Jim Johnson have brought two men with tremendous experiences to the team’s coaching staff, and that should be great news for all Sharks fans as another great season approaches.