Jack Johnson, 35, is a recent college graduate looking to hoist the Stanley Cup with Avalanche


Avalanche defenseman Jack Johnson recently graduated from the University of Michigan and made his Stanley Cup Final debut in Game 1 on Wednesday.

But he’s no spring chicken.

Johnson is 35. It took him 17 years to complete his general studies degree and 15 years to reach the NHL championship series.

“It was just a big thing for myself. I wanted to do it,” Johnson said of degree after Saturday’s morning skate at Ball Arena ahead of Game 2 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. “As a kid, I grew up dreaming of playing college hockey at Michigan. I wanted to graduate from there — No. 1-ranked public school in the country. So it meant a lot to me. (And) I made a promise to (former Wolverines coach) Red Berenson when I left that I was going to finish. So I called him as soon as I did.”

Johnson signed with the Los Angeles Kings after his sophomore season at Michigan in 2007. The Kings won the Stanley Cup in 2014 — months after they sent Johnson to the Columbus Blue Jackets ahead of the trade deadline. This is Johnson’s eighth trip to the Stanley Cup playoffs but his first playing beyond the first round.

“It was it was everything I thought it would be,” Johnson said of his lifelong dream of playing in the Final. “I tried to stay pretty calm, cool, and collected going into it, just knowing it’s another hockey game. The adrenaline was going to get going once I got out there on the ice with the atmosphere and the fans and everything. It was pretty incredible. We’re enjoying it, staying in the moment. But there’s a lot of work ahead of us here.”

But the work for his degree is complete. He joked about the number of years it took him.

“Most people are at least a doctor at that point,” he said.

Johnson completed two years’ worth of his college education in the NHL offseason — including the pandemic.

“Some of the seasons where I wasn’t fortunate enough to make playoffs I go back for spring terms, online courses,” he said. “Took advantage of some of the time during the pandemic where they offered some online courses that I normally would have to be on campus for.”


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