Jack Johnson For The Win Comment Count

Brian January 22nd, 2010 at 12:51 PM

Jack Johnson has responded to his general manager's stunning call-out of both himself and Red Berenson, and the item bringing his quotes uses "irate" in the headline:

"I'm a Michigan man. I'm very proud of it. I wouldn't want to have it any other way," Johnson said after the Kings' 4-3 shootout victory over the Buffalo Sabres at Staples Center.

"Michigan has produced more NHL players than any other school. Even the U.S. development program, people rip that and they just don't know anything about it and don't know what they're talking about."

Berenson, Johnson said, "is one of the finest coaches and men that I've met. For my general manager to rip me as a person and criticize me as a person and as a player and call me an awful hockey player is irresponsible and unprofessional."

Excellent work, Mr. Lombardi.



January 22nd, 2010 at 12:59 PM ^

The rumors on the internets were that Johnson was possibly trade bait to begin with. I'm pretty sure he's as good as gone at this point. Good for him, how unprofessional for a GM to call out a player like that. I hope, for his sake, LA doesn't enter the Kovalchuck sweepstakes, ATL would be a terrible place to end up.

c williams

January 22nd, 2010 at 1:08 PM ^

So, what could be the GM's motivation for saying this?

He's alienating a player, a prominent college program/coach, devaluing his player on the trade market, etc., etc., etc.,

Maybe someone's coming undone at the hinges and needs to move on?

edit: at the expense of everything else, could he want to discourage future draft picks from coming to UM?


January 22nd, 2010 at 1:13 PM ^

And if/when Lombardi does make an effort to trade JJ, the asking price will automatically be raised because everyone KNOWS he wants to get JJ out of L.A.

Way to stick it to yourself, D.L.


January 22nd, 2010 at 1:14 PM ^

it must be devastating for both jack johnson and red berenson to be criticized so sharply by a man who has accomplished so much, both as a player and as a general manager


January 22nd, 2010 at 1:34 PM ^

Dean Lombardi wasn’t the GM of the Kings at the time of the Cammalleri signing – that was former GM Dave Taylor (per previous post).

As I can count the number of UM hockey games that I’ve seen since graduating on one hand, I don’t have any valid opinions on the current state of the Michigan Hockey Program.

Still, from the head coaches, assistant coaches, and other hockey figures I’ve spend time with, there is a strong prevailing view that Michigan is not as good at developing talent as it is at simply plucking the best players from around North America. Since joining the Western Hockey League I haven’t had a conversation with one person that has defended Michigan’s ability to cultivate and develop talent. This is not just NCAA vs Juniors: FIGHT issues here – the people whom I’ve had discussions about this have also spent time on the coaching staffs of various NCAA programs and are more neutral in the NCAA vs Major Junior tug of war.

As someone who grew up in Los Angeles and has devoted many painful years of my life towards following the Kings, this Lombardi-Johnson spat irks me, and I’m disappointed that Dean's unneccessary comments were publicized.

I just wanted to convey that it’s not just one flustered GM who harbors these opinions – it’s definitely a commonly held view amongst many respected hockey figures.

I’ll let myself out.

Jon Rosen
Director of Broadcasting and Public Relations
Everett Silvertips Hockey Club
School of Music ‘03


January 22nd, 2010 at 2:32 PM ^


The spat, as you call it, has been an ongoing war of words between Berenson and the Kings Management (be it Pulford/Taylor/Lombardi) because of how the organization has influenced draft choices to come out of school early. It happened with Tambellini, it happened with Cammalleri, it happened with Johnson and it has most recently happened with near recruit (Lewis)who was talked into going to the CHL and former U-M forward Robbie Czarnik... who bolted mid season for Plymouth in the OHL this past December. (Also keep in mind that Jeff Jillson was a Lombardi draft choice while he was working for the Sharks, and he left early also.)

Toss in the CHL/NCAA battle, and it creates more friction.

Now, your opinion, or the opinions of your qualified hockey sources is all well and good- but I hardly think that the body of work is finished when players are convinced that they are ready for the pro's after their freshman or sophomore year. That is why Berenson and his staff preach commitment for four years, so they can, at a minimum, fall back on their degree. Coach will be the first one to stand up and say you're ready, if he thinks so. Funny how those sources conveniently leave that part of it out.

Matter of fact, the arrogance of the NHL is no more prevalent than to make those kind of accusations, then turn around and take a kid like Aaron Palushaj, who Berenson clearly stated wasn't ready, convince him to come out after his sophomore year, sign him and banish him to the AHL so that he can be "developed properly". What horseshit.

I would also suggest that the agenda that the NHL types and collegiate coaching staffs have are much different, especially about technique, development and preparation. I am suspicious of the motives of any NHL "authority" (or, as you put it, "respected hockey figures") when it comes to what is best for these kids. If the opinion stands that Michigan only plucks kids with the most potential and doesn't develop them, then I guess Johnson and his other 20 or so Michigan alums in the NHL are wrong to dispute that. Of course, that doesn't count the kids that the scouts convince to go pro and then float around in the dirges of the CHL/AHL for the rest of their career. It's the tomato / ta-mah-to argument. I'll take the tomato with the Michigan pedigree any time. Of course, the biased Lombardi brings up Jack Parker's BU program because he is from the Bay state, as if Parker has any more development prowess than Berenson.

Blue In NC

January 22nd, 2010 at 3:15 PM ^

That's interesting. So if that theory holds true, you would expect that 3 to 4 year Michigan players would have much worse careers than those that leave earlier for Juniors. And yet the data does not seem to support that. Madden, Morrison, Ortmeyer and others all stayed and are going on to have good NHL careers. While others that, as you state are only the top talent, leave early and then never make it. According to this bogus theory, if Red only gets the top talent then the players that leave very early should clearly be the ones that receive much better coaching and should become top line NHL players. I just don't see it.

Obviously I am a supporter but there is just too much data to the contrary to support this theory.


January 22nd, 2010 at 3:38 PM ^

Lombardi is a scum bag. Ask the Sharks president or Scotty Bowman their opinion on Lombardi and his father. Lombardi is one of the least respected GM's in the NHL. It is not a coincidence the sharks started to contend with Detroit after Lombardi was fired from San Jose.


January 22nd, 2010 at 3:39 PM ^

I respect and appreciate the perception out there. But until a single player or person who has been intimitaley connected to the program comes out and says that there is better developmnet at x place compared to Michigan and I know because I experienced both, well, I think they're full of shit. How could anyone really know how much coaching and developement are going on in Ann Arbor if they aren't a part of it?


January 23rd, 2010 at 2:19 PM ^

We were actually down in Portland last night - Everett extended its winning streak to 11 games by taking down the Winterhawks 4-3 in a game with a terrific, playoff-type atmosphere (though not Yost). Shoot me an email ([email protected]) and I'll make sure you get some tickets the next time we roll through,- Tuesday, March 9th.


January 22nd, 2010 at 1:28 PM ^

Jack Johnson and a low 1 or high 2nd for Tomas Kaberle...

Burke won't move Kaberle in the East but at 4 million for a perennial all star puck moving defenseman for a team that perceives themselves as up and coming is pretty good.


January 22nd, 2010 at 1:56 PM ^

For a guy who thinks Michigan is "the worst" Lombardi was sure supportive of him staying, or so he said,

"I talked to him after the trade," Lombardi said, "and I just asked him: is that his wish, to stay in school? He said yes, and I have no problem with that, and I actually think that we were prepared to be patient when we made this deal. I think, in the long run, it will be good for him to spend another year there, and then, certainly, evaluate it in March when his season's over. Ron Hextall called [Michigan head coach] Red Berenson right away, and told him that if that's what [Jack] wants to do, we're behind him. Don't worry, he's not going anywhere, and we'll review it in March."


big gay heart

January 22nd, 2010 at 2:45 PM ^

But isn't JJ in the bottom 5 in the NHL with a +/- of like -17? For the sake of full disclosure, I'm a longstanding JJ hater (he was terribly undisciplined in college and often acted in a thuggish manner that could have resulted in injuries not dissimilar from last year's UM/MSU fiasco). I think the facts are that JJ is a bad defenseman who takes dumb risks.

That being said, he's right in saying that Lombardi is (and always has been) totally unprofessional. For those that remember, was he the author of the press conference that was called to basically talk shit about Heatly last year?

Blue In NC

January 22nd, 2010 at 3:23 PM ^

Gee, that's clever. While the *injuries* could have been similar (presumably from some of his hits), Johnson never participated in any attack similar to that and to raise it colors your analysis. Glad that you disclosed your bias (and I am probably biased the other way). And I will agree that JJ takes some bad risks as a Dman but he is not exactly unique there and is still young. Feel free to give up on him, I will not. And I think that JJ improved dramatically from year 1 to year 2 at UM. I take it that you watched most of his game during his UM career?


January 22nd, 2010 at 3:33 PM ^

Rafalski is getting old and injury prone... JMFJ could learn alot from Lids on the first D pairing. Please come back home Jack. The wings should package Leino for JMFJ.


January 22nd, 2010 at 4:21 PM ^

I would be more worried if Lombardi had just made a couple small barbed comments about Red/Michigan, that obviously speak negatively about the program, but aren't so blatant. As it is, you have to wonder why he calls Red out so harshly and since I think you could argue that it's not precisely socially acceptable to make these kinds of comments (hence the hullabaloo) there are three causes I can think of:

1. Lombardi is just some idiotic, asinine man who has no control over what he says

2. Lombardi has a personal vendetta against Red/Michigan

3. Lombardi is actually a genius and has a motive that none of us could even guess at and when it is revealed we will all bow down to his obvious superiority

Raise your hand if you think it's #3...

Ideally, since I'm not intelligent at all, you would hope most people would dismiss the comments because they are delivered so harshly. Unfortunately, I'm far too much of a cynic to believe that, so there are people who could probably find a way to agree strongly with Lombardi and convince themselves that because he spoke so harshly he must be right.


January 23rd, 2010 at 7:48 AM ^

So let me get this straight: so many NHL coaches and GM staffs share the view that Red doesn't develop talent that they can't keep themselves from drafting Michigan underclassmen every year.

Something isn't adding up.


January 23rd, 2010 at 9:11 AM ^

that these talented players keep coming to Michigan to play for a guy who can't help them develop their talent, instead of going to, say, BU to play for a real coach. You'd think it would hurt your recruiting a bit if "everyone knows" that you can't help guys become better players. Apparently talented players all live in some sheltered corner of the world where they haven't heard that Red can't coach.


January 23rd, 2010 at 10:34 AM ^

It was nice to see him (Jack) go out of his way last night to show up to the game, letter jacket on, and continue with his previous statement. He can't last in LA through this trade season. Is there a team in Detroit that has suffered a ridiculous number of injuries this year? One that could actually use definite help at the trade deadline this year? I can't remember.