DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson stopped by CBS4 studios for an interview on Sunday. CBS4’s Vic Lombardi’s first question was about Johnson’s size. He’s no small man — he stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 232 pounds.
“I’d say I had a decent growth spurt when I hit seventh grade. I think I was 5-foot-8 or 5-foot-9 and then by my freshman year of high school I was 6-foot-3, so I took quite a spurt there and have been big ever since,” Johnson said.
Johnson said he hasn’t always played defense.
“I played a little bit of forward when I was a mite and a squirt, but made the switch back to defense,” he said. “Coach had me play defense once and it stuck.”
Johnson showed up to CBS4 with his missing teeth. He said he has yet to get false teeth to fill the gaps.
“I still have the three that I lost at home … with black puck marks on them.”
He said he kept them just for the memory.
“I was standing in front of the net in practice and was trying to screen the goalie for some reason and the puck came and ramped up and hit me right in the teeth and I got them knocked straight out.”
He said it didn’t hurt too bad. He said a cut on his lip is what really hurt.
Johnson doesn’t need to be told that when a team wins, everything is hunky-dory. But when a team has been losing like the Avs have been, the coach is the first person to catch all the flack. So what is it like playing under Joe Sacco?
“He’s been the best coach I’ve had in the pros so far … I had two or three coaches when I was in St. Louis and Joe Sacco is by far the best that I’ve had. He’s just a great guy to work with, he lets you go play,” he said. “The thing I struggled with the most in St. Louis was confidence, and he’s good at giving me a full shot at that.”
Johnson said the trade to the Avs brought him new scenery and new confidence.
“I think it’s going to be really good for me and I’m happy about it and excited to be here.”