The DSR’s Comment on the Jack Johnson Mess


By Jeff Moss
November 20, 2014

Most of you who are familiar with this website probably are aware that the DSR has a connection with Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Jack Johnson.

DSR contributor Justin Spiro is very good friends with the former U of M standout. In fact, Jack Johnson was the Best Man at Spiro’s wedding to Leen Spy a couple of years ago.

Just in September of this year, I was brought in as an expert to judge a wager between the two friends and I wrote an article about it for the DSR. In retrospect, I am glad that I decided in Jack’s favor.

Anyway, as you can imagine, after the news broke today that Jack had to file bankruptcy because his parents bilked him out of millions, there were a lot of requests of me to throw in my two cents.

Now, I am sure Spiro has TONS of inside information about this story, but he is my friend and I wouldn’t even ask him to divulge anything that Jack didn’t want out there.  Actually, I knew about this horrific story a couple of months ago and didn’t report about it out of respect for both Spiro and Johnson.

But I did want to pass on a story that might give you a little sympathy for Jack (not like he needs any more after Jack, Sr. and his mom have turned him into the Jackie Coogan of the NHL) and an understanding of his priorities.

Back before the 2011-12 season, Johnson — the #3 pick overall in the Sidney Crosby draft — signed a seven-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings worth a grand total of $30.5 million. That’s an average of about $4.35 million a year.

When the details of the contract became known to the public, I instantly contacted Spiro to ask him if Johnson had lost his mind. Why would he sign a deal for that long a term, even eating up a few of his free-agent years?

At the time, Johnson was considered to be one of the best young defensemen in the league — a rare combination of size and offensive skill. The guy can STILL eat minutes and play on both special teams units; oh, by the way, he also has a howitzer of a slapshot.

(And trust me, the fucking guy is as strong as an ox. He once shook my hand at a Wings playoff game and I almost had to be rushed to Henry Ford Hospital for medical care. I think he still tells Spiro that I have the handshake of a dead fish.)

Three years ago, I figured his best move was to take a shorter deal and roll the dice that he’d get a monster contract averaging more than $6 million per when he was eligible for free-agency.

I mean, we are talking about a league where garbage defensemen like Kyle Quincey make $4 million a year. A dude with the skill set of Johnson’s is always a highly valued commodity.

The answer I got from Justin was that Johnson isn’t a big spender; he is the kind of guy who goes to the matinee movie in order to save a few bucks on a ticket. And the idea of being financially set for life with the seven-year deal was more important to him than taking a short-term contract and rolling the dice.

That’s the guy who now finds himself in bankruptcy court having to answer for all of the shitty things his sperm and egg donors did to him. A professional athlete who played it conservatively when he had every reason in the world to gamble on himself.

Back in February of 2012, Johnson briefly signed up for the DetroitSportsRag message board on Facebook. I always considered it a jinx that he temporarily aligned himself with a bunch of degenerate miseries.

That same evening, Johnson took a delay of game penalty which cost the Kings the game. Later that week he was dealt to Columbus in exchange for Jeff Carter after the development of Slava Voynov make Jack expendable.

If it wasn’t bad enough that Johnson had to move from LOS ANGELES to Columbus — ya know, the home of OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY when he is a huge Michigan slap as well as a product of the university in Ann Arbor — he had to watch his former teammates hoist the Stanley Cup a few months later.

To add insult to injury, the Kings won another Cup this summer while Johnson was left off the 2014 US Olympic team after getting off to a rough start last fall.

And now the news of his parents borrowing against his future earnings with predatory lenders has caused Johnson to end up in court.

While the Wings were pummeling Jack’s Blue Jackets on Tuesday, I went on a Twitter tirade begging Ken Holland to acquire Johnson from Columbus. The Wings need a top-four defenseman who can move the puck while Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk are still in the vicinity of their primes.

Look, Jack is going to be fine regardless. He will be around 31 and in the prime of his career when he becomes a free-agent; he will sign a massive contract that might dwarf the one his parents pilfered. 

Hopefully, now that this is all behind him, he can focus 100% on hockey and develop into the All-Star he was projected to be. 

The Wings need an offensive-minded defenseman to bump Jonathan Ericsson to the third unit and maybe Jack needs a fresh start. It would be a win-win situation for everyone.

Especially Spiro. And shouldn’t making him happy be everyone’s first priority?