COMMENTARY | Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson has a ten-day vacation. Granted all NHL players not selected for the Olympics get a ten-day break before being called back to practice on February 19.
However, arguably, Erik Johnson shouldn't have a ten-day break. He should be in Sochi during this time, dealing with jet lag, Russian snow and Olympic-style hockey. No question, that's where he wants to be. I posit that's also where he should be, and the Olympic snub is just more evidence of his underrated status.
So, during Johnson's undeserved vacation, he should do a few things to blow off some steam - and to work on that underrated status.1. Take up snowshoeing.
If Johnson attempted to take up an injury-laden sport such as skiing or snowboarding, executive vice president Joe Sakic would likely hold E.J.'s legs while head coach Patrick Roy hung him up by the ears. They probably wouldn't look too kindly on golf cart shenanigans either. Snowshoeing is a pretty safe sport, though. Plus, it builds leg strength and endurance. Johnson's skating shows he doesn't necessarily need to work on leg strength and endurance. However, the coaching staff would likely laud him if he came back from the break in even better shape than when he left.
2. Throw back a couple beers with fellow snubbed Olympians.
There were several surprising names left off the Team USA Olympics roster, but two other shocking omissions were Ottawa Senators' Bobby Ryan and Columbus Blue Jackets' Jack Johnson. Bobby Ryan has had a stellar year so far, with 21 goals and 43 points. He's had four 30+ goal seasons and seems on-pace to hit it again. Like E.J., he also represented the U.S. at the 2010 Olympics. Another snubbed Olympics veteran, Jack Johnson, is a fierce competitor currently playing with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Maybe the three can find neutral ground, such as Kansas City, and throw back a couple beers while discussing their disappointment.
3. Commiserate with the Denver Broncos.
If E.J. wants to cry in his beer, he doesn't even need to travel. The Denver Broncos, after their oh-so-ugly Super Bowl loss, might want to commiserate. Maybe Bronco players Peyton Manning or Eric Decker will want to meet up for a microbrew. And, if Johnson actually put any money down on the game - he had stated "I'm heavily invested in the Broncos" and was even specific in his scoring prediction - he may expect Manning or Decker to pick up the tab.
4. Investigate Denver Restaurant Week.
Denver Restaurant Week has always corresponded to the fact that the city is one mile - or 5,280 feet - above sea level. Therefore, restaurant patrons have paid $52.80 for two multi-course meals. It's a gimmick, but one that satisfies our Colorado pride. The 2014 Denver Restaurant Week, though, is charging $60.00 for the deal now. So, either Denver has risen in altitude, perhaps due to an earthquake none of us felt, or one mile now corresponds to 6,000 feet. E.J. could do his fellow Denverites a solid in discovering which one of those is true.
5. Work on his hockey dangles.
Erik Johnson has strong puck handling skills that no one seems to want to acknowledge. If he spent the Olympics break working on some sweet hockey dangles, something akin to the between-the-legs pass he made to Nathan MacKinnon during the victory over the Buffalo Sabres, people might take note. Fans always love a good hockey dangle - that deliberate temptation in front of opponents before yanking it back into possession. Maybe even the announcers would give him some love, something a little more worthy than Brian Engblom's lukewarm afterthought, "Erik Johnson, with three assists, shouldn't be overlooked as well."
6. Get a new hairstyle.
Captain Gabe Landeskog joked during a promotional Christmas commercial that he has the best hair on the team. Except, it's really no-joke as his fellow Avs seem to be stylistically-challenged in that area. Many of them, including Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon, appear to be wearing mops on their heads. Maybe Johnson can get Landeskog's stylist's number and take at least MacKinnon for a stylish trim.
7. Get glamour shots taken.
It's time for E.J. to start working on his public relations. According to The Denver Post's Eric Dater, coach Roy told Johnson to "forget about the first-overall thing." Unfortunately, even if E.J.'s doing that, no one else is. So, if he could release some GQ-worthy shots on the internet, he'd blow up Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and, most definitely, Pinterest with something other than the "first-overall thing."
8. Put out a viral Youtube video.
Not to leave Youtube out of the new PR mix, he should also put out a video sure to go viral. It should be fairly easy. Hockey dangles are usually a hit, so he could kill two objectives with one video, so to speak. Hockey hits, hockey fights… he's a natural. Of course, if he wanted to change it up a little, hilarious rap battles are huge with millennials. Extra points if he raps without his bridge in. (Definite hit, in that case - love the hockey smile!)
9. Add some punch to his Twitter feed.
According to E.J.'s current tweets, he's a normal young man who enjoys music, football, his buddies, and who happens to be a hockey player. No, no, he needs to punch it up, adopt a persona. Vancouver Canuck goalie Eddie Lack's tweets regularly appear on Tumblr and Pinterest because they're so silly! Of course, he could go the way of Phoenix Coyote Paul Bissonette's sometimes raunchy, often caustic tweets…
10. Hire a PR firm.
Ten days of Olympic break are probably not enough for Johnson to totally turn around his public reputation. And once he reports back for practice… well, Erik Johnson already has a full-time job as a top-level hockey defenseman. Maybe he should spend some vacation time hiring a PR firm, then. I wonder if teammate Semyon Varlamov's firm would have any appointments. Considering what they've done for the goalie this year - they must be geniuses. And E.J.'s better raw material.
Nadia Archuleta is a native Coloradan and professional writer. An Avalanche fan since their beginnings, she has a sports blog, Hockeygrrls on Blogger, and writes content for several websites.
- Sports & Recreation
- Ice Hockey
- Erik Johnson
- Colorado Avalanche
- Denver Broncos