Hockey: Freshman Jack Johnson Clears the Air

Now that the NHL draft is out of the way, rumors are starting to circulate that Jack Johnson will never pull on the Michigan sweater. As a result, GoBlueWolverine Magazine talked to Jack about the draft, his summer, and where he plans on playing his hockey in the future.

It has been a long time coming for Jack Johnson. It became evident at a young age that the 6-foot-1, 201-pound defenseman had NHL-caliber talent. By the time he was 14, the youngster from just outside of Detroit had already earned a scholarship offer from the University of Michigan. It was only a matter of time before the pros came a calling, and on Saturday they did.

"With the No. 3 selection, the Carolina Hurricanes select Jack Johnson, United States National Developmental Program."

While the selection came one choice later than he had hoped for, Johnson was just a relieved to have it over with. "It was a little stressful, but it was exciting to see what my future is going to hold after Michigan," Johnson said to GoBlueWolverine earlier this week.

Now that the draft is over, the time has come for Johnson to make a decision on where he will play hockey next season. Although he has been committed to the University of Michigan for over three years, the Carolina Hurricanes organization and their general manager Jim Rutherford have not been shy about their desire for the talented defenseman to sign immediately.

"We'll have discussions with him and his family and try to decide what is best for him," Rutherford said to CarolinaHurricanes.com. "I would like to have the opportunity to talk to Jack about signing and getting started in Lowell because I think it would be a huge jump for him to play in the National Hockey League immediately."

Fortunately, for Wolverine fans, it appears Johnson has already chosen to lace up his skates at Yost this season. "I'll be in Ann Arbor in the fall," Johnson said. "The day after the combine in June, I started working out at Yost with the strength. I have been working out there ever since."

While the entire freshman class hass yet to report, the summer has also provided Jack with the opportunity to bond with a few of his fellow classmates during on-ice scrimmages...something which is very important to the success of the Wolverines this year. "Mark Mitera is there a lot," Johnson recalled. "Tim Miller and Brandon Naurato too."

With 25% of the roster composed of freshman, how they bond will have an important impact on the Wolverines 2005-2006 season. So far it seems to be going well. "We're kind of sticking together as a class because we're the freshman," Johnson said. "We know that we aren't upperclassmen so we're walking a fine line about not getting too buddy-buddy with them. It's part of the respect thing."

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