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Stupidity Over Jack Johnson Reaches Fevered Pitch

Most days, I think it'd be pretty cool to be Jack Johnson. He's a world-class athlete, a future multi-millionaire, and if he ever got into a fight with a bear, I'd say he'd be at least even money to get out alive. But then there are times that I don't envy him, because he's a guy that people love to criticize, regardless of how ill-informed they are.

I made passing mention of Johnson keeping his commitment to Michigan and not taking Carolina's offer. I figured it wouldn't be a huge deal. Rookie mistake. With Jack Johnson, it always has to be a huge deal, and sure enough, after Johnson rejected Carolina's offer, the hockey world went nuts.

What really set things off was Carolina GM Jimmy Rutherford's statement that he would entertain trade offers for Johnson. I can't blame Rutherford for saying that either. Building for the future is nice, but at the same time, Carolina thinks they can get one more run out of their core group of guys that led them to the Stanley Cup, and they desperately need a defenseman. If they can't get any return on Johnson this, why not see if anyone is willing to offer a couple pieces to help the team win now.

Perfectly sane reasoning, no? But that's where the logical thinking ends.

Johnson has been ripped mercilessly by some people for his decision to stay in school for one more year. He's been labeled as having an attitude problem, and thinking he's bigger than the Carolina organization. He's been called selfish for wanting to enjoy life as a college student rather than the grind of professional athletics. My personal favorite was seeing Jack's dad referred to as a "Lindros-esque" controlling parent. Anyone who knows Jack's dad knows that is far from the case. When Jack does decide to go pro, Michigan fans will miss his dad's presence in the stands almost as much as they'll miss Jack.

Some of the best comedy came from NHL fans upon hearing that Johnson was on the market though. I loved reading some of the armchair GMs that were ready to pull off the blockbuster trade. Most of them looked like this:

"I'd love to see [insert NHL team] offer our third defenseman and a goalie prospect that's probably never going to play a game in the NHL for Johnson."

Throw in a bag of pucks and how could Carolina resist!? Other teams have scouts too. You're not fooling anyone.

And then there are the fans who think their team is so great that they'd have no use for Jack Johnson. One Anaheim fan answered the question of "How many Michigan games are on TV in southern California?" by stating that Anaheim was already deep enough on defense and had no use for Johnson, and then listing off the team's propsects. Of course, Johnson's teammate Mark Mitera was second on the list, and there was a significant depreciation in quality as the list continued. Good luck with that.

Sadly, even some college hockey guys had to jump in. Dave Starman, who I think normally does an excellent job, tried to write a nice article on Johnson, which gets bogged down by utter ridiculousness.

First, he mentions Eric Nystrom's decision to stay all four years at Michigan despite being a high draft pick. Nystrom was one of my favorite players at Michigan, but let's be realistic. Calgary wasn't exactly knocking down his door trying to get him to sign.

The worst though was his depiction of Johnson's check on Tyler Howells. I don't think anyone could objectively watch the tape of that hit and say that Johnson's check was in any way illegal. I'd love to hear Starman's explanation of why the hit, which came late in the game while Michigan had their goalie pulled and was trying to regain possession of the puck was "unnecessary".

That's just the way things seem to go for Johnson though. It seems regardless of what he does, someone is going to find a way to complain about it, whether it is accurate or not. Luckily, Johnson seems to do well at handling that criticism. I'm just glad he's the one that has to deal with it and not me.