Erik Johnson Work Study Program

Erik Johnson Gets On The Job Training In First NHL Camp

After watching Erik Johnson compete in a preseason rookie tournament in Traverse City, Mich., one NHL scout described him as “a man among boys.”

On Sept. 13, the day the St. Louis Blues opened its training camp, the roles were reversed for the No. 1 overall selection in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.

As Johnson pulled his 6-foot-4, 222-pound frame out from behind the wheel of his SUV, he was ready to report for his first day of  work. Before he did, the 19-year-old sent his dad a text message.

“This is kind of the end of the beginning for me . . . ending my amateur career and starting my pro career,” Johnson wrote. “I’m excited about that.”

His dad’s response?

“Play your game, and I know you can do it. I have confidence in you. We support you all the way.”

As the future of the franchise, Johnson also has the support of his new employer.

“He’s going up two, three levels to the NHL, but after watching his training camp so far, he’s got the skill set to be able to do this,” Blues President John Davidson told the St. Louis media.

A DAY IN THE LIFE

10:30 a.m.
 
Erik Johnson pulls into the garage in his Range Rover for his first day of training camp with the St. Louis Blues. “I wouldn’t say that I was nervous. More than anything I was just eager to be here.”

10:50 a.m.
  Johnson tapes his stick before every game and sometimes before practices.  “I definitely do it the same way every time, but I don’t have any real superstitions about it.”

11:20 a.m.
  The St. Louis Blues provides lunch for the players during camp. “I pretty much eat whatever. I like steak and pasta a lot, and usually omelets for breakfast.”

11:40 a.m.
  Johnson poses for his first official photo shoot with the Blues. “I didn’t know about the photo shoot. I felt kind of weird at first, but it was fun.”

12:30-2:30 p.m.
  The team splits into three groups for a lengthy practice. “It was the worst thing ever, I thought it would never end. So brutal, I thought I was going to die,” said Johnson of his seemingly never-ending first practice.

2:45 p.m.
  Johnson gives an interview to a member of the media. He has gotten used to the media attention after every team function, but jokes that sometimes he “can’t get to the showers because there is a wall of reporters.”

3:00 p.m.
  Johnson does a quick cardio workout with the team trainer Nelson Ayotte “just to flush the legs out” after a long practice.

4:00 p.m.
  With his first day of training camp behind him, Johnson heads back to his car to go home, where he lives with Al MacInnis. “Sometimes I have to take a step back and really see what I’m doing. This is a big privilege and it’s where anybody wants to be in their career. I’m still pretty young, so it may take awhile to really sink in.  But so far it’s been a lot of fun.”

“We’ve surrounded him [with veteran players], so the transition should be really smooth. He just has to play. He doesn’t have to worry about being the guy. He doesn’t have to carry this team. As a No. 1 pick, he’ll face his share of pressure and ups and downs, but the fans here are reasonable, patient people.”

While his progress has been watched intensely by Blues fans since being selected first overall in the 2006 draft, the 19-year-old Johnson tries to let others worry about things he can’t control.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I’m not a guy that really puts pressure on myself too much,” he said. “I feel really good out there, I haven’t been nervous at all. I’ve been happy with how I’ve been playing and I’ve really been trying to keep things simple, so that’s helping me out a lot.”

Johnson’s first day began at 10:30 a.m., and  wrapped up about 4 p.m.

Head Coach Andy Murray divided the team in three groups, so players aren’t on the ice all day, but each team did go through an off-ice workout, an hourlong practice and two of the three teams played a scrimmage game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As coaches ran through the paces, Blues’ scouts were busy scribbling down notes as they watched the practices. Murray assigned each scout five or six players to watch, and that scout was responsible for an evaluation sheet on each player.

After spending much of the summer skating in development rookie camps, Johnson said the real deal was completely different.

“It had a different kind of meaning for me, just because I’m playing for a spot in the NHL,” Johnson said. “It’s a little bit easier coming in now, after being in St. Louis so many times. I’m just kind of used to everything, so that made the transition smooth. I thought I had a good first day.”

Issue: 
2007-11

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