I’m not saying that Dustin Brown (husband and father of two), Jon Quick (who had been sick and probably wouldn’t have made it to the Opening Ceremonies even if he’d already planned it), Drew Doughty, Michal Handzus, or any of the other players who could have attended the Opening Ceremonies and didn’t have the wrong attitude about the Olympics and I’m not saying that they should have been at the Opening Ceremonies. I guess Jack Johnson just seems to be having more fun with the experience than the other guys. Maybe it’s just that (like me) Jack is really into the Olympics in general and would be watching as much as possible if he wasn’t there. I didn’t ask him that one.
When asked about traveling to Vancouver and back in a short time period (and with a more difficult travel schedule than normal, since he couldn’t get one of the direct flights from LAX to Vancouver), he said “Well, it’s the Opening Ceremonies… I think it’s a no brainer… I had the opportunity. Why waste it? It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. If I’m fortunate enough to play in the next one, it’s in Russia, I can’t just go over and back.” At the end of this, he brings up a very good point, which I asked him about later. Most of the NHL Olympians couldn’t attend the Opening Ceremonies even if they were as interested in doing so as Jack Johnson. They either had games or were on the wrong side of the country (which is true of most NHL teams). This is why I think the NHLPA should go for broke if they end up managing to allow their players to play in the Olympics going forward and get a break that would allow every NHL player to attend the Opening Ceremonies in Russia if they so choose. I think it should be the players’ choice and Jack Johnson (who did take advantage of his opportunity to attend the Opening Ceremonies) agrees. He described the Opening Ceremonies as the “coolest experience I’ve ever had in my life – something I’ll never forget,” so it’s not surprising he thinks the other NHL players in the Olympics should have the same opportunity he had in the future.
He’s planning to meet as many of his fellow Olympians as possible in the Olympic Village and attend as many other events as he can. I’m not sure how much free time he’ll have, since I know from the experience of John Speraw (assistant men’s volleyball coach for the gold medal winning men’s volleyball team in China) that they didn’t get much free time with all the games they played and practices, but I hope Johnson has enough free time to enjoy a few other events while he’s in Vancouver.
Hockey fans everywhere should be happy to hear that when I asked him about the coolest experience he’s had meeting a fellow Olympian so far and who he’s had a chance to meet in his brief time with his fellow American Olympians, Johnson said, “I got to meet Shaun White. He came up and asked me to take a picture with him, which I thought was pretty cool.” He went on to say that he’d met a couple of speed skaters, bobsleders, figure skaters, and that he wants to meet as many other athletes as possible and cheer them on, since that’s part of the Olympic experience and that he knew many of the other members of Team USA would be cheering on Team USA’s ice hockey team.
As a side note, Canada’s women’s ice hockey team makes a good argument for the mercy rule in international ice hockey competition with an 18-0 win over Slovakia. Talk about total domination. I’m looking forward to seeing their other games and hope most of them are a bit more interesting.