Colorado Avalanche Erik Johnson Finally Wears the A

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson wore the A for alternate captain during the game against the Dallas Stars. It’s a justification of his leadership skills.

Who do you have to kill for Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson to finally wear the A for alternate captain? Well, they’re not dead, but injuries to captain Gabriel Landeskog and newly-minted alternate Matt Duchene did the trick for the game against Dallas Stars.

Erik Johnson was the first-overall in 2006, being chosen by the St. Louis Blues. He was the alternate captain for the Blues for quite a while. The Avalanche traded for him in February of 2011.

Johnson entered a dry spell for recognized leadership when he got traded to Colorado. He wore the A as alternate while then-captain Milan Hejduk was out for a while in 2012. It as even thought that he might become the captain. However, eventually Gabriel Landeskog was named Avs captain.

That said, both Joe Sacco to Patrick Roy praised Johnson for his leadership. While Johnson never wore a letter under Roy, Patrick always looked to him to lead the players. Indeed, at times Roy remarked that Erik was one of the premier leaders on the team.

It didn’t look like Jared Bednar appreciated that leadership. He decided to change up the alternate captaincy structure this year. He stripped future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla and fan favorite Cody McLeod of their letters. He then gave them to Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon and Francois Beauchemin. Duchene and MacKinnon alternate who wears the A.

Now, Patrick Roy’s wisdom was always that you don’t have to wear a letter to be a leader on the team. That was certainly true in Erik Johnson’s case. He’s long served as a liaison between the players and both the staff and the officials. What’s more, he’s also an ambassador of the sport to the media and the fans. He never fails to grant interviews, and he’s classy in all his responses, no matter how hard the questions.

I’m not privy to locker room dynamics. However, Johnson is known as being a jokester. I’ve also often thought he’s the decider for when a player is in with the team. Players talk about how awkward it is when they first come to a team until someone starts joking with him. I think Johnson is that guy.

In any case, that’s just conjecture. What’s not is that Erik Johnson got to wear a letter for the Avs for the first time in five years.

Now, Johnson is the cornerstone on defense for the Colorado Avalanche. He gave the team the “hometown discount” that so many players talk about when he signed for seven years at $6 million AAV — he could have gotten more on the open market as defensemen are highly prized.

I’ve made no secret of the fact that I think Johnson should be an alternate:

I know the letter on his chest is probably temporary. However, Erik Johnson is a true leader on the team. He deserves the recognition from the Colorado Avalanche.

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