Colorado Avalanche Name Erik Johnson Alternate Captain

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05: Semyon Varlamov
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 05: Semyon Varlamov /

The Colorado Avalanche have officially named cornerstone defenseman Erik Johnson as an alternate captain. The move is long overdue.

Finally, the Colorado Avalanche news I’ve been waiting five years to hear — defenseman Erik Johnson has been named an alternate captain!

In fact, the news came amid little fanfare. Different players wore the A during the preseason. However, Jared Bednar never officially announced who would be named the official alternates to Gabriel Landeskog‘s captaincy.

Bednar didn’t speak to the media after yesterday’s morning skate, so we all had to wait until just before puck drop to know about the lineup. And we had to wait until game time to see who was wearing the A.

Landeskog had two alternates, and one of them was Erik Johnson. The other was Nathan MacKinnon, who alternated with center Matt Duchene as alternate captain last season. (Yes, it’s a little confusing.)

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If you look on the Colorado Avalanche website, Johnson doesn’t have the A listed after his name in the roster. However, Ron Knabenbauer reported in the recap of last night’s game that the two were wearing alternate captain letters for the Avs and that “both players will wear the A’s all season.”

There’s no mention of whether Duchene has been officially stripped of the alternate captaincy or if he’ll continue to share it with MacKinnon. If he was stripped, I’m not going to look too deeply into it. He leads in his own way, and the circus the media created around him has put undue pressure on our talented center.

As I’ve mentioned before, the only real coaching mistake I ever thought Patrick Roy make was naming veteran (and future Hall of Famer) Jarome Iginla alternate over Johnson. He said at the time that you don’t have to wear a letter to be a leader. While that’s certainly true, I thought that applied to future HHOFer Iginla better than Johnson (whose leadership Roy constantly praised).

Naming Francois Beauchemin alternate captain over Johnson was far from the only coaching mistake I’ve considered Bednar to make. However, it looks like he’s finally rectified that one at least.

Johnson has been ready for a long time. He’s a former first-overall pick, which doesn’t necessarily mean anything. However, he was an alternate captain for the St. Louis Blues. He also wore the A for the Avs in a game against the Detroit Red Wings while the team was choosing a post-Milan Hejduk captain.

Erik Johnson is definitely ready now. Recently on Altitude Radio he called himself the “elder statesman” of the Avalanche blueline partially because he’s the oldest defenseman at 29. However, he also remarked previously that he intended to take a mentorship role with the team this season.

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I’ve long stated my admiration for Johnson’s leadership abilities. He took charge of the blueline a long time ago as a leader. He continues to lead by example both on and off the ice. He was even tagged as one of the players who arrived to camp in excellent fitness.

It’s fitting that Erik Johnson has finally been named an alternate captain for the Colorado Avalanche.