TAMPA — Erik Johnson said he knew the potential plan for the Stanley Cup handoff from Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog for a while.
“‘Gabe’ was telling me the last couple of years, ‘When we win it, you’re getting it first,'” the Avalanche defenseman said. “If that doesn’t give you motivation to get it done, I don’t know what does. Just a super, humbling gratifying feeling. I mean, it’s amazing.”
Johnson was the first Avalanche player to receive the Stanley Cup from Landeskog after they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at Amalie Arena on Sunday.
It’s the first time the Avalanche have won the Cup since 2001.
With NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman not present due to testing positive for COVID-19, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly handed the Cup to Landeskog, who handed it to Johnson, a defenseman who has played for the Avalanche for more than a decade.
[RELATED: Complete Stanley Cup Final coverage]
The No. 1 pick by the St. Louis Blues in the 2006 NHL Draft, the 34-year-old was acquired by Colorado with forward Jay McClement and a first-round pick in a trade for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, forward Chris Stewart and a second-round pick on Feb. 19, 2011. He has 329 points (88 goals, 241 assists) in 857 NHL games, including 238 points (68 goals, 170 assists) in 654 games with Colorado.
Johnson had five points (one goal, four assists) in 20 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He was tackled by Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon after time expired.
“I thought I drilled my head on the ice. ‘We did it!’ It was just elation,” Johnson said. “It was the best feeling ever. So proud of all our guys, our support staff. Everyone sees us on the ice, but there’s truly so many people behind the scenes that get it done for us that allow us to go out there and do it. Oh, just amazing. So grateful.”
Johnson then handed the Cup to forward Andrew Cogliano, who was acquired from the San Jose Sharks on March 21. It’s the first time Cogliano has won the Cup; he has played 1,140 NHL games with the Edmonton Oilers, Anaheim Ducks, Dallas Stars, Sharks and Avalanche.
Cogliano handed the Cup to MacKinnon, the No. 1 pick by the Avalanche at the 2013 NHL Draft who has played 638 games with them since.
“‘E.J.’s’ been here for a long time, then they decided I was next,” Cogliano said. “Obviously, that was nice of them. I’ve been in the League for a long time. I feel like that the title of champion will really resonate with me for a long time and for this team.
“I was happy I could give it to Nate. We’re good friends. He’s a big reason I’m probably here in the first place, and I’m really happy to hand it to him.”
MacKinnon was followed by Jack Johnson, Nazem Kadri, Andre Burakovsky, Darcy Kuemper, Mikko Rantanen, Darren Helm, Devon Toews, Valeri Nichushkin and Pavel Francouz.
Jack Johnson, a defenseman, signed as an unrestricted free agent with Colorado on Oct. 10, 2021. The 35-year-old has played 1,024 NHL games with the Los Angeles Kings, Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers and Avalanche.
“The last two minutes took forever and then all of a sudden, we look up and there were 10 seconds left and you realized the puck was in their end and we were going to kill it,” he said. “It’s a dream come true. You always try to imagine what this feeling would be like, but you never know until it actually happens. It’s unbelievable.”
Kadri said he wasn’t sure where he would have his Cup day but said, “It would be quite the party.” The 31-year-old forward has played 739 games with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Avalanche and scored the overtime goal for Colorado in its 3-2 win in Game 4 of the Cup Final on Wednesday.
“That third period felt like it was two hours long,” Kadri said. “Playing with the lead, being in the dressing room, understanding you’re 20 minutes away from your dream, it would’ve been easy for us to tense up and be shy and timid in the third period, but we came out, we were aggressive, we won the period and we won the game.”
Next up was defenseman Cale Makar, who won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, then J.T. Compher, Josh Manson, Artturi Lehkonen, Nico Sturm, Samuel Girard (who was injured in the Western Conference Second Round against the St. Louis Blues), Logan O’Connor, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Ryan Murray, Kurtis MacDermid, Bowen Byram, Alex Newhook, Jayson Megna, Justus Annunen, coach Jared Bednar and general manager Joe Sakic.
Bednar became the first coach to win the Kelly Cup (with South Carolina in the ECHL in 2008-09), the Calder Cup (with Lake Erie of the American Hockey League in 2015-16) and the Stanley Cup.
“I’ve been in the league 15 years, had a lot of ups and downs but just stuck with it, believed in myself, surrounded myself with people who believed in me and most importantly, my teammates. I’m so proud of my teammates,” Erik Johnson said. “They all worked their [tails] off, the support staff that gets us ready to play, it’s amazing.”
Source : NHL News