Chicago Sun-Times

Johnson confident he can contribute with Blackhawks

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Ryan Johnson, the newest Blackhawk, is a tough one.

The Hawks officially added Johnson, a seasoned shot-blocker who played through broken bones in each foot last regular season with the rival Vancouver Canucks, to their mix Friday with a one-year, $500,000 deal.

"I spent the first part of summer just getting healthy," said Johnson, 34, who saw last regular season end when he broke his foot by blocking a shot in April.

"As the summer went on there was some teams that questioned just the health of my feet and wanted me to come into camp without a deal. The way I play the game I felt that wasn't the best scenario for me.

"It was a real test of patience. I had a lot of conversations, but nothing solid or nothing that seemed like the right fit. When this came around, it was a no-brainer."

Johnson played for coach Joel Quenneville and assistant Mike Kitchen in St. Louis. So the Hawks have a good idea of what they're getting. He's a bottom-six forward that can play center or left wing and kill penalties. The Hawks' penalty kill has floundered this season.

Johnson signed a professional tryout offer on Dec. 10 with the Rockford IceHogs, playing in only one game before joining the Hawks. He has finished in the top four among forwards in blocked shots the last three seasons.

"We think he can give us some energy," Quenneville said. "I like a guy that can play in both positions. He is a strong faceoff guy as well."

It's also another veteran voice in a relatively young locker room. The game Friday against the Detroit Red Wings in the 668th of his regular-season career. He returned from his broken foot last postseason and played in four games against the Hawks in the Western Conference finals.

"We like his presence whether it's a veteran thing [but] it's a lot of areas we welcome," Quenneville said. "He's a good guy, a good teammate. He's fun to be around. He'll fit in."

Johnson said he was "a little shocked" that he brought in so soon after joining Rockford, but he's confident.

"I came here to fill a role and to be a part of things," he said.

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2 Comments

Very good acquisition as the Hawks have sorely missed John Maddens presence >>

Good Move---The fact he's close with Q and Kitch will let the other slackers know this veteran can speak with backing, and maybe call out, or his mere presence will bring with it a renewed interest in wanting to Win. Watching last night I was wondering, wow this bunch got up because a former hero Chris Chelios was in the house..but then I remembered we had a real HERO, a Medal of Honor Winner in the House Wed. and this crew couldnt get up for him, nor to save face in their own house, after losing to the same team with a 2 goal 2 minute left lead. What was the real difference, that the Hawks stepped up against the surging Wings? The realization that Little Bowman is now actually pulling the trigger on slackers and non Character guys who dont produce and he just proved it with the Johnson acquisition.

A long overdue good old wake up call is what the spark needed is with this bunch...keep it going little Bowman, waive, trade, cut, send down any and all slackers who dont play all out an entire Game....comfy cozy cutesy good guy stuff is over. More grizzled hungry veterans whose time is running out to win a Cup, sprinkle them in with this bunch who now have fat long term guaranteed contracts and/or who have already won a Cup at an early age...but bring in the vets with past relationships with present coaches---they come with instant credibility. Best move little Bowman has made yet. Nothing else has worked.

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Adam L. Jahns is a native Chicagoan hailing from the Far Northwest Side. Jahns has been with the Sun-Times for more than four years, covering the Hawks, Bears, Cubs, Sox and high schools.

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This page contains a single entry by Adam L. Jahns published on December 17, 2010 5:28 PM.

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