And he scored it against those self-same Blues.
As Johnson put it, he was “floored” when initially told of the trade. Philosophically he added, “But obviously that comes with the territory when the team’s not playing well.”The trade that brought Johnson to Colorado was one of the blockbuster trades of the 2010-11 season. The Colorado Avalanche sent forward Chris Stewart and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk along with a second-round draft pick for Johnson, forward Jay Clement and a first-round draft pick. Johnson and Clement arrived in Denver February 19, 2011.
Johnson played in a home game — his new home, anyway — against the San Jose Sharks that very same day. However, it was the February 22, game that had everyone intrigued. The Avalanche were playing in St. Louis. Johnson would be playing in his formerly “home” arena.
During his first interview as an Avalanche, Johnson admitted, “That [returning to his old arena] is probably the most difficult part about it , but it’s going to be fun.”
The day of, during the pre-game interview, Johnson looked relaxed. He had great things to say about St. Louis, the fans, the organization and his former teammates. (Paul Stastny could have learned a lot by listening in on that interview.) However, his new loyalties were clear:
“It’s going to be a lot of fun tonight more than anything…Hopefully I don’t get too confused out there with all those guys going, ‘Edge, Edge, Edge’ — turn the puck over to them because I think it’s one of my guys. No, I think I know better than that.”
He did indeed.
With only five minutes left in the game, the score was tied 2-2. Play was in the Blues’ end. Johnson was on the ice. A Blues player shot the puck around the boards. The dpuck whizzes around past two Avalanche players and a Blues player — right to Johnson. He took two strides to beat former Blues forward B.J. Crombeen, glided to a halt and released his bomb of a shot. Former Blues goalie Ty Conklin barely twitched — he was beaten.
It was the go-ahead goal at the time, and the Avalanche went on to beat the Blues 4-3. Erik Johnson’s first Avalanche goal was against his former teammates of just three days ago.
Johnson, for his part, released an elated “Whoo!” as he glided right past the Blues to his new teammates on the Avalanche bench. Erik Johnson certainly was having fun on his return to St. Louis.