Johnson named El Capitan de los Estadios Unidos on Cinco de Mayo

Jack Johnson of The United States controls the puck during the ice hockey men's preliminary game between USA and Switzerland on day 5 of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics at Canada Hockey Place on February 16, 2010 in Vancouver, Canada. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) It was announced on Cinco de Mayo that Kings defenseman Jack Johnson was not only going to be representing USA Hockey at this weekend's World Championships, he will be carrying a heavy burden, that of the Captain's C.

As first reported by the USA Hockey website, Johnson was named Captain of the U.S. Men's national team, continuing the evolution of the Kings' young defender.

Despite only being 23, Johnson has represented the United States seven times since 2004. He played for the silver medal-winning U.S. team in the most recent Olympics.

But in the last World Championships last summer, Johnson led the team in scoring and gave fans a glimpse of what was to come from the Rabid Wolverine in the 2009-10 season. 

Logging a lot of minutes on the Los Angeles blueline, Johnson enjoyed his best season to date of his young career. Eight goals and 28 assists in the regular season, plus he was tied for the most points (7 with the other defensive phenom Drew Doughty) in the Kings' playoff series against the Vancouver Canucks.

While it's exciting to see another King rise to a leadership position for USA Hockey (Dustin Brown was an alternate captain for the 2010 Olympic team), it's doubly so to see Johnson accept the mantle.

Johnson came into the league highly touted as TNBT (The Next Big Thing). He was drafted by the Hurricanes, but shunned them to play another year at Michigan as BMOC (Big Man On Campus).

I guess it was enough of a turnoff for Carolina to trade him as far West as possible. So they shipped him off to Los Angeles, a team that had been mired in mediocrity for years. I'm sure they thought they were screwing him by doing so. But not today.

Johnson was one half of the Kings dynamic defensemen, along with Drew Doughty. And while his blueline partner continues to get all the press, Johnson has quietly impressed hockey insiders with his enthusiasm and willingness to learn. His transition from college to the NHL hasn't been without road blocks. But he quickly established himself as one of the best American-born defensemen playing right now.

Johnson didn't have to play this summer in the World Championships. Drew Doughty isn't, due to a wrist injury. But there's Jack, doing everything he can to continue to grow as a player. And playing in the World Championships is no walk down Easy Street. Starting on Friday, the Americans will be playing Germany, followed by Denmark on Monday, then Finland on Wednesday.

The fact that Johnson hasn't gotten enough of hockey, after playing 82 regular season games, followed by a spirited 6-game series against Vancouver speaks volumes of his character. He just may live up to those expectations after all.

 

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