The Colorado Avalanche feature a bromance so strong it’s akin to brotherhood. It’s the one between Gabriel Landeskog and Erik Johnson.
The Colorado Avalanche players, like on any other team, form fast friendships that transcend hockey. These are players who not only attend each other’s weddings and even vacation with each other. These are players who will still be hanging out long after they’ve hung up the skates.
These are players who will be buddies even if one got traded or signed with another team. We saw such a so-called bromance play out this summer when Tyson Barrie got traded to Toronto. He and Nathan MacKinnon are renowned for being best friends. And they still are — to the point that they visited each other in the arena hallways before each game.
I mean, MacKinnon went running over to see Barrie without even bothering to put on shoes at the arena in Toronto:
That’s friendship. (Judging by how MacKinnon is always doing interviews shirtless, I think he cares not for clothing.)
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Anyhow, a bromance that’s largely not been covered is one that’s even more enduring. It’s between Erik Johnson and Gabriel Landeskog. They’ve been best buddies so long they’re almost to the old married couple stage.
It all started when Landeskog first got drafted to the team. Johnson was relatively new to the team, too, having just been traded to Colorado from St. Louis that February. Landeskog made the team out of camp. In that time, veteran players still had to room while on the road, and Erik became the rookie’s road roomie.
They remained roomies for the next two seasons, including when Landeskog was named the (then) youngest-ever NHL captain. At the time, Johnson, who’s four years older than Gabriel, had already been an alternate captain.
He advised his young roomie on bearing the responsibility not only of leadership but just outside expectations. Erik had been a first-overall draft pick, and he was long used to hearing about the expectations that come with being drafted so high. Gabe went second overall.
Here’s Landeskog at the time poking fun at their roommate situation:
Now, Johnson came to the Colorado Avalanche a, let’s face it, toothless wonder. He took a puck to the face in practice in St. Louis and lost his three teeth. He’s never had them replaced, and he only occasionally wears his partial.
I mention this because one of the most infamous stories of the Landy-EJ bromance had to do with his teeth and their roomie status. One day, Johnson apparently took off for morning skate without his partial. He texted Gabe, who was taking the later bus, to bring it for him.
And Landeskog took the opportunity to tweet out the situation:
Now, just like any best buddies, Johnson and Landeskog loved to make each other look silly — see above. They took it to another level when the USA, Erik’s home country, and Sweden, Gabe’s home country, faced each other for gold at the IIHF Worlds Junior in 2013.
We can’t be sure what Johnson was going to have to do, but Landeskog had to put on and wear a t-shirt that declared, “I ♥ American Boys.” We know this because Gabe lost the bet when Team USA took gold. Here Johnson shows him upholding his end of the bargain:
Landeskog, then a more prolific tweeter (he was only 21) got him back in some small measure:
Or maybe it was EJ pranking Landy. Johnson is known for being a prankster.
Case in point:
Ah, to think our two team leaders were so young and immature. They’re both far more restrained now. At least on public Twitter.
However, though their friendship isn’t as playful as it once was, they’re still fast friends. In fact, it’s well known that Johnson named one of his racehorses after the captain — Landeskog.
One of the things I love about the Avs these days is getting to watch your faves grow up from rookies to legitimate adults. I’m sad that I don’t get to celebrate Matt Duchene’s accomplishments on here because of the trade.
However, our captain is taking the same journey. Despite being the younger man in the bromance, he got married and started his family first. (Johnson is apparently living with his longtime fiancee, but no kids yet.)
Not long after Landeskog and his wife Melissa welcomed their first child, daughter Linnea, Johnson visited the couple and held the newborn for the first time. The picture he took with his best friend’s daughter brings a tear to the eye:
I’m not sure if Johnson will officially be a godfather, since Landeskog does have a brother. However, little Linnea will always have a giant Condor in her corner, no question.
The Colorado Avalanche recently made a video of the team’s best bromance, which was the inspiration for this post:
I feel like this video really encapsulates their longtime friendship, both the hilarity and the poignancy.
Erik and Gabe haven’t exactly known each other 10 years, as the following Instagram post claims:
Gabe came into the league in 2011. However, it’s very interesting to see two different characters not only creating a fast friendship but, more important for the Avs, creating a culture for the team.
I’ve firmly believed for a long time that EJ plays straight man to Landy’s showman, that Erik is the henchman while Gabe is the facilitator.
Together they have helped make the Colorado Avalanche who they are. So, like Johnson says in the video — I hope they have many more years together here on this team.