[UPDATE: So I just watched Jack Johnson's phone interview on NHL Live; they ask him about the Doughty snub story and he says it's b.s. and says that he, Brown, Quick and Doughty all flew up on Air Canada together. Now, he's obviously talking about the flight up to Vancouver once the Olympic break had begun, not the chartered flight he took to attend the opening ceremonies, which is the one in question. Regardless, he flat out denies the story from Rick Wharnsby of CBC. At this point, frankly, I'm bored of my own post. What especially irks me is that, we all know to steer clear of blog/message-board rumors, and maaaaaaaybe it's sometimes okay to give some tiny amount of half-assed credence to a legit reporter passing along a rumor from a legit source (and even then...), but when actual reporters from actual big-league national news agencies (i.e. CBC, The Globe and Mail) tell you something actually happened, wouldn't it be nice if they weren't just as unreliable as some guy on the HF Boards?]
In ten years, we might well look back and say that Jack's future as a true star in the NHL began in the Vancouver games. Of all the Kings, he has spent the most time at the top of the list of people I am dying to see bust out. And I know there are plenty out there like me. So why he is so bent on being the bad guy in his own stories? [Maybe because the story is made up?]
While Kane has kept in touch with his three Chicago teammates throughout the Olympics - and shared a taxi with Toews to go downtown from the athletes village on evening when the two were meeting their parents - the same can't be said about Los Angeles Kings defenceman Jack Johnson and his teammate Drew Doughty.
Johnson has refused to answer Doughty's texts. He also didn't offer him the same courtesy he did to another Kings on the U.S. team, Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick, when he hired a charter flight to fly up for the opening ceremonies. This not only befuddled Doughty, but Brown, too.
(via Vancouver Now)
First there was the thing with his dad soliciting offers from the KHL, which I wrote off as being essentially made up (because after all that's crazy! What normal person would do that?). Then there was the dust-up over Lombardi's comments to Gann Matsuda about the University of Michigan. Now there's this.
One thing I notice about these last two incidents: in both, Johnson is taking an extreme position regarding his conflicting loyalties. In the first, he must defend his alma matter against attack from his current boss, and he goes a bit farther than most people would. In the second, he is in effect telling his current teammates, for two weeks, I don't know you. Oh, and also, I dislike you. Have a good game. Again, going literally farther than everyone else around him. [You could also argue that the second story, in which JJ slights his Kings teammates, is fabricated specifically to cater to the fears of Kings fans who worry that JJ isn't loyal to the Kings, the same way an urban legend seems true because it speaks to the fears or prejudices of a certain group. In this case, the group is Kings fans, and their fear is they're about to be screwed over. I suppose the Vancouver press, which has a built-in resentment of JJ because of "the elbow", is not impartial. Well, duh. I don't expect or require sports writers to be impartial. Just accurate.]
Aren't there several dozen instances of NHL teammates now suiting up against each other? So why is Jack Johnson the one who gets the ink? It eventually came out that he sought out Helene Elliott to vent on the Lombardi/Michigan incident. Why the repeated statements of loyalty? I don't really need to know which team Jack loves more, this week's team, or next week's team, or some team from three or four years ago? (And what about Shattuck-St. Mary's? Why are they the odd school out? Not a serious question by the way.)
It's almost too easy to push this thing through a pop psychology machine and pull out a diagnosis. Right now, I'm just mesmerized by the fact that his attitude is insulting to practically everyone. [but, see "urban legend" theory above.] It's insulting to his Kings teammates [if true] , or his temporarily former teammates [if true] , as Jack appears to think of them. But it's also insulting to the other players on Team USA [if true], who are presumably also patriotic and dedicated, despite not having snubbed all their former friends.
I get it. Jack Johnson is fiercely loyal to Team USA, a team that's been together for just over a week. (yes, I do see that the idea of Team USA transcends this group of guys and these two weeks.) And he's fiercely loyal to the University of Michigan, a school that he attended for two years before leaving to play for the Kings (ibid). But it's hard to miss the fact that in both these incidents, the team that he's insulting -- you know, while he's being so loyal to U of M and Team USA -- is the Kings.
Last thought: does Jack think this is how a leader is supposed to act? Is this how Bobby Orr would have played it? Mario? Yzerman? Does this declaration make Team USA more of a team? Do his teammates look at him and say, "hey, that guy is willing to lay it on the line for me. He's got my back"? No. Because the next thought is, "Until next Monday." [Or else they're smart enough to know not to believe what you read in the paper; I guess I'll have to try that.]