Yesterday, George McPhee said what most of us already knew: Brent Johnson would not be a member of the Washington Capitals in 2009. Today, it became official: Johnson is a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins after signing a one-year deal.
Brought in before the 2005 season, Johnson suffered through the first two post-lockout seasons as Olaf Kolzig's back-up, weathering the rebuild years with professionalism and class, playing behind a shaky defense that boasted names like Bryan Muir, Jamie Heward and Mathieu Biron. Then, at the height of the team's sprint to the playoffs in 2008, Johnson was essentially put on hold; the team's acquisition of Cristobal Huet made Johnny a press-box fixture from early March through the end of the season.
In 2008, Johnson was back in his normal backup role, this time behind the newly-acquired Jose Theodore. It didn't take very long for Johnny to make a strong push for the team's No. 1 slot, going 8-5-0 before suffering a hip injury during a Nov. 12 game at Carolina. Injuries have never been kind to Mr. Johnson.
Johnson's final record as a Washington Capital: 34-41-12. Hardly the stuff of legends. However, he was a fan favorite because of his steady demeanor and underdog status. He helped guide the team through several dark winters and, despite the obvious fact that there was no longer room for him on a team with Simeon Varlamov and Michael Neuvirth waiting in the wings, he badly wanted to play for this team.
Quality teammate, quality person and, with decent health, a quality backup on a quality team: three cheers for Johnny on the Spot.
But now that he's a Penguin, let us never speak his name again.
[Getty Images via NHL.com]