Hockeybuzz’s Bob Duff paid tribute to Greg Johnson, who passed away today at 48:
Johnson’s NHL days began with the Red Wings in 1993, and he quickly gave an indication of his character. During the 1993-94 season, he left the Wings to join Canada in time for the Winter Olympic Games, helping the Canadians win a silver medal.
By volunteering to join the Canadian squad, Johnson’s two-way NHL deal switched to a minor-league pact. His decision to live out the Olympic dream cost him $40,000 in salary.
It also cost him some blood. Johnson became a cult hero in his homeland in Canada’s quarter-final against the Czech Republic. Johnson took a slap shot in the nose during overtime, but remained on the bench while his now-broken nose was stitched up.
“The idea was that if they stitched me up on the bench, I could go right back out for my next shift,” Johnson recalled at the time, “but just as they finished, we scored.
“So the trainer looks at me and says, ‘Good, the game’s over. Now we can take those stitches out and put them in right.’”