by Justin Spiro
Justin Spiro: What are your thoughts on Michiganís season thus far?
Jack Johnson: So far, first half season didnít go as well as we wanted or expected. Since Christmas, things have been rolling in the right direction and our season could still be a success. It is too early to make any ultimate determinations, but I feel good about this teamís chances.
JS: On a more individual level: Rate your performance this season? Have you met your own personal standards?
JJ: My standards are higher than anybody elseís are for me, and it is tough to ever be satisfied. I concern myself with my contribution to the team. Did we win the game and did I contribute to that win? These are my primary concerns.
JS: Has your time at Michigan moved you any closer to a decision regarding your future? Will you be leaving Ann Arbor soon?
JJ: My time in Ann Arbor has been everything I wanted it to be. I havenít given the future a whole lot of thought. I have some very important things ahead of me hockey wise, not to mention school. It is completely clichť, but I am going to take things one step at a time. When the time comes, I will decide what I am going to do.
JS: Recent draftee Erik Johnson has drawn rave reviews. Many scouts have stacked you against him and have come to varying conclusions as to who will be the better player. What is your opinion of the other Johnson?
JJ: I have played with him twice, and he is absolutely phenomenal. He is an even better person than he is player. I am very fond of him, he was an excellent defensive partner. There is no question in my mind that he is going to have a great career.
JS: Assuming you do eventually sign with the Kings, how excited are you at the prospect of living and playing in Los Angeles?
JJ: I truly hope that I do have the privilege of playing for Los Angeles. They would be demanding wins, and I expect to be a part of delivering them. I am thrilled that I may have an opportunity to play there.
JS: Have you watched any Kings games this season? What are your impressions of the team?
JJ: Whenever they are on TV, I enjoy watching the Kings. They are very young and talented. My perception is that they will be among the NHLís best within a couple of years, and the potential is far greater than the standings would let on.
JS: Which current Kings player would you be most excited to play with?
JJ: If I got the chance to play with Rob Blake, that would top my list. He is a Hall of Fame defenseman that has won it all. Just one hell of a defenseman, and certainly as good as it gets.
JS: In Los Angeles, a fan based message board has given you the nickname ďJack Mother Fu***** JohnsonĒ. Do you like the new moniker?
JJ: I appreciate it, I think! I donít know if it is a nickname that will stick, for obvious reasons, but it is one of the better names Iíve had. Maybe they can abbreviate it to ďJMFJĒ to avoid any conflicts.
JS: What has been the greatest benefit of resisting Carolinaís efforts to sign you right out of high school? In hindsight, was going to the University of Michigan a wise decision?
JJ: Yes, I donít regret going to UM one bit. I always wanted to do it while growing up, and it is something I will always look back on. So many wonderful athletes have played at this university. Going to class with All-American football players, the greatness of YostÖ what an experience.
Carolina would have been great, but I am definitely looking forward to performing in front of the Kings and a fan base that I perceive to be among the finest in the game.
JS: Did it hurt when the Hurricanes traded you away?
JJ: No, it wasnít personal at all. We obviously werenít on the same page, and they didnít agree with my decision. It was my decision to make, and I knew some people wouldnít agree. It was my choice, and I was going to do what I thought was best for my development. It was a business move, and I absolutely respect the Hurricanes organization decision to move me.
JS: Will you be playing with a chip on your shoulder?
JJ: I always play with a chip on my shoulder, so that is almost irrelevant. Still, I want to let people know that I can hold my own on the ice. If I get the opportunity to play, I will show everybody that I can perform. I certainly wonít hold anything back.
JS: What defines a successful NHL career? Stanley Cups, numerous All-Star Game appearances? What must you do to satisfy your personal standard of success whenever you do make the jump?
JJ: I think people view successful careers differently. I think you have to be recognized as a winner. The biggest thing is that Stanley Cup. The individual accolades are nice, but a championship is the most important.
I would much rather be considered a champion than a great player. That said, the goal is to combine the two. I donít plan to settle for just one.
JS: What number do you intend to wear in your post-collegiate career?
JJ: Iíve worn number 3 in college, but I am not sure if I want to carry that over. It was my fatherís number, and I would like to create my own identity. Aaron Miller already has it, anyway. I am still in college, but I am guessing a great way to make friends would be not to stroll into the locker room and request a current playerís number.
JS: Hypothetical: Your close friend Sidney Crosby is dashing toward the net. Youíre all that stands between him and a breakaway goal. Who wins the battle, and would you hesitate to level him with a clean hit?
JJ: Who wins? That is tough. Back when we were high school teammates, we pushed each other and it was always a fierce competition.
In that situation, I am going to do everything I possibly can to keep him from scoring. He wouldnít let up on me in the least bit, so you can bet I will do anything to stop him. Weíre friends off the ice, but on it there is no mercy. If I had to take him out (legally), I would do it.
He is probably the best player in the world right now, so I would have my hands full.
JS: Throughout your Michigan career, you have been criticized (and thunderously booed in Canada) for what people perceive to be "dirty" play. Do you relish playing the role of villain?
JJ: Yes, it is great. Most people that boo me would love to have me on their team, I am guessing. I absolutely relish it, and even laugh at it most of the time. I canít imagine paying money for a seat just to insult a player the whole game. I find as much entertainment in it as anybody.
JS: Are you at all concerned about the reception youíll receive during road games in Canada?
JJ: Concerned? Absolutely not. I told a friend the other day that I would be extremely disappointed if I showed up in the arena and I wasnít booed. Being hated by the opposing teamís fans is at least as much of a compliment as being loved by your own. I look forward to getting booed, and I hope our friends up north are willing to oblige.
JS: Thank you very much for your time, and best of luck to you as the season progresses.
JJ: My pleasure. Go Blue!