Thursday, December 16, 2010

If you've never heard of Ryan Johansen, allow me to enlighten you

First, and most importantly: He just made the Team Canada roster for the World Juniors, which will get underway December 26 in Buffalo, NY.

But before that, there was this: He was drafted 4th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. He was the first Portland Winterhawk taken in this year's draft, where he was followed immediately by his team and linemate Nino Niederreiter, who went 5th overall to the New York Islanders. Around that time, Ryan also graduated from high school.

And somewhere in between there, he did this: He played in the 2010 NHL Prospects game for Team Don Cherry, and he just got back from playing for the WHL in the Subway Super Series.

But before all that: I met him last February. Before the draft. Before the hype. Before everything. Now, that in itself was a small miracle. The Winterhawks' booster club sponsors a regular Pizza Night with players, in which among other things, you get a ticket that entitles the winner to buy a pizza for a player and have that player sit at their table. Now, I never win things in contests. Ever. Not raffles. Not free key chains. Nothing. But that night, I stopped for a split second and picked a set of tickets because --I kid you not -- it looked like a winner. No clue how I knew, but it worked. And the prize winner at the other end was Ryan. Think that's weird? The $12 it cost me to buy him that pizza was exactly how much cash I had left in my wallet, to the dollar.

So you see, it was fate: But nothing like the one that awaits Ryan. For that, I'm afraid, the rest of us will have to ride shotgun. Because I will never be able to say enough good things about Ryan if I try, let me just say this: get ready Columbus, something very special is coming your way. Ryan is regarded by experts as a wee bit of a late bloomer, so you may have to wait just a tad. But believe me when I say it will be worth it. Oh, and if you're wondering if his ego and head will explode when he gets there... not to worry. He's the same kid I met last February, except maybe with a slightly cooler haircut. And not a lot of teenagers can rock an argyle sweater the way Ryan does, so he gets fashion brownie points too.

Behind the great playmaking is a great player: And great parents. I've only met his mom, but after reading the Vancouver Sun article about Ryan and his family this morning, I believe his father is one of the regular readers of this blog. If I'm right, then thanks for tuning in and send my congratulations and best wishes to Ryan. Oh, and since he knows how much I loooooovvveee cliches, he'll understand if you tell him that Samantha said he's reached the quota with using surreal in interviews. It is real, dude. Enjoy the ride.

Oh and in case you need greater proof than my word: Google him or visit and look him up. My personal recommendation is the interview where he and Nino interviewed each other at the Draft Combine. It's classic. A true vintage moment, if there ever was one.

And speaking of breakout stars at the World Juniors: To digress, I'd also keep an eye on Nino's fellow Swiss genius Sven Bartschi. On this year's preliminary draft rankings, Sven is second among WHL players. To repeat: to whatever city drafts him, get ready because something very special is coming your way too.

But you see, I owe Ryan more than he knows: This blog will soon be moving to Kukla's Korner, where I hope readers will continue to enjoy it and will find other blogs and information they might also enjoy. The entry that helped me score that gig was entitled "You Had Me at Draft Picks Four and Five." As its title implies, it was a mini-prospect watch about Ryan, Nino and the other draft picks that Portland is hoarding at present. I will probably never win another raffle, key chain, whatever in my life. But that's ok, because once was enough for me.

As for Ryan and family: Thanks again for reading, happy holidays and safe travel to Buffalo.

Up next: Back to topic with the collective bargaining agreement.


  1. Hmmm, no updates on the Pens or Sid and their respective streaks. Both continue. it just caught my attention that Crosby's sweater number matches the amount of rules in the 2009/10 rule book. A bit of a Crosbian Slip, no? Let us know when you actually move to Kukla's Korner as I thoroughly enjoy this blog and all things hockey.

  2. Samantha,
    We truly enjoy the insight you bring in your blog... hopefully there will be no more cliches from our

    Have a great holiday!!

    Randall Johansen & family