Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson initiated a private meeting before last Friday’s game to let coach John Tortorella know of his interest to be traded...
Tortorella said Johnson asked to get a face-to-face meeting before the game against the Vancouver Canucks — their last game before a mandatory five-day bye week. The veteran defenseman expressed concern about his dwindling playing time and his fears concerning his chances of getting a lengthy contract as an unrestricted free agent this summer.
“He didn’t come out and say ‘I want to be traded,’ ” Tortorella recounted. “He said, ‘I just think some stuff’s going to probably start coming out along the way. I want to talk to you face-to-face. I love it here. I want to improve as a player. I want it to work here, but I also have to think about my family.’ ”
And what was Torts' reaction to his courageous demand?
"I don't blame him for that. I don't … and I really respect him for his honesty," Tortorella said to NHL.com.
"That's what Jack's about," Tortorella added. "He won't lie. He's a stand-up man. That's why I kind of … I moved an 'A' to him [as an alternate captain], because I just wanted his attitude and his preparation, and just the pro that he is. It doesn't surprise me. I think it happens more the other way, where guys kind of hold it in."
An automatic trade to come?
The relationship between Tortorella and Johnson, and the blue liner and his teammates, remains strong and they can envision a future for Johnson in Columbus.
“The onus that falls on me is to try to help him to get better. I’m certainly not going to go the other way because a player is talking about his future. ... Jack loves it here. His family loves it here. So if we get him playing better, and maybe win some games, who knows where it all goes here?” noted Torts.
For now, Johnson says he feels lighter and that might help his stats on the ice, and convince the Jackets to trust him again with a bigger role.
“It’s never good to let things fester, hold everything in,” Johnson said of his decision to approach Tortorella. “I’ve been holding a lot of things in for many years here. Yeah, it’s out. I own it. I have nothing to hide. That’s the situation.”
"You try to go about it in the same way, but I've had a lot of good seasons and I'm very proud of my whole career. I know that I have a lot to give, so I think that's kind of what's brought me to this point where I'm at now."
In 46 games this season, Johnson has tallied two goals and seven points, and a minus -5 rating.