The Predators bit the dust last night, as we all suspected they would. The Avalanche are just too much, the Preds were a wonky team whose best player on both ends is a defenseman, Roman Josi, because he has to be. For their entire existence, which is getting up near 25 years now, the Predators have been seeking a true, genuine No. 1 center. They got a look at what one can do this series, as Nathan MacKinnon scored in every game and was essentially unplayable for the Preds (a 66 percent share in both Corsi and expected goals).
Of course, maybe that wouldn’t have been quite such a problem if the Preds excuse for a No. 1 center, Ryan Johansen, wasn’t on his fifth straight year of time theft.
There isn’t much evidence that ol’ No. 92 participated in this series. The box scores say he was out there, but you’ll have no memory of it, no matter how much of the four games you watched. Records indicate he piled up two assists, and had two shots on goal for the entire series. Again, there is little memory of this, but will go down in history thanks to the stat sheets. This is one of those cases where the box scores won’t tell you the true meaning of something. In this case, this meaning was dog and shit.
It’s perhaps wise to fill you in on RyJo’s history in Nashville. He arrived with much fanfare, as both the organization and fanbase in Smashville were so desperate to finally have a true top pivot on the team. They’d never seen one, but they’d heard tales of what having one could do for them. They were so desperate that they gave up Seth Jones for the privilege. And, as he always is because no hockey writer ever wants to say anything bad about him (, fearing they might not get their golden ticket to the bars and bachelorettes on Broadway), GM David Poile was hailed as a genius. And it remains true today as it did then, David Poile has brought more sex criminals to Nashville than he has Cups or division championships combined. And yet, hockeydom can’t want to throw rose petals at his feet instead of leg locks.
And Johansen was just canny enough to fool them for a season. Because y’see, he was in a contract year. Columbus already knew. John Tortorella, even through the fog of rage with which he walked through every day, could see that Johansen was not worth the investment. So they let him bitch and down tools on his way to Tennessee. They were never going to pay him.
And Johansen did play for that 2016-2017 season. He had 13 points in 14 games in the playoffs before getting hurt, as the Preds made their one and only trip to the Stanley Cup Final.
Perhaps it was genius to bail out halfway through that run. Absence makes the heart grow fonder and all that. Johansen played all of Nashville, as they could tell themselves they would have beaten the Penguins had only Johansen been healthy and present. And convince themselves they had to make sure he would be present the next time. Yeah…the next time.
So Poile rushed to hand him an eight-year deal ofr $64 million, a pretty big deal five years ago. He’s still the top paid forward on the Preds. Finally, Poile had solved it. No more would Preds fans have to look longingly at the MacKinnons and Crosbys and Barkovs of the world. They had their own.
And Johansen has been a turd ever since. Sixty-four64 points is the best he’s ever managed, which is fine for a second line center. But not a top guy. And when it matters most, you won’t find this guy with satellite imaging and an advance team. He’s racked up the points that find him, not the ones he finds. He’s a more well-fed Ryan Getzlaf, floating around the outside and letting his natural talent attract just enough points to duck criticism, while never really taking things by the scruff of the neck or putting himself on the line or carrying a team to anything that matters. He’ll get whatever points he can reach with his fork from the dressing room spread.
This past series was his coup de palooka, as he racked up a 22 percent Corsi and expected goal share as Nazem Kadri swirlied him for four straight games.
Is Johansen bothered? Nah, he got his check. And in these days when corporations and billionaires have queered society to an irreperable place, perhaps it’s time we change our perspective. No longer should we view Johansen as a waste of money or a roster spot, or lament what he could be if he could just be bothered to do so. No, perhaps it’s time we just appreciate someone siphoning off a lot of money from someone far richer (who won’t miss it) for doing nothing. It’s grand scale time theft, the kind of which we would only dream of. He’s winning in a way most would kill to.
One of our most famous lines in recent memory: “Look at my cousin, he’s broke and he don’t do shit.” From Office Space, one of our most beloved works, it was a dream to be able to do nothing and get away with it. Well, Johansen is someone’s cousin. He’s far from broke, and he don’t do shit either.
Good on you, lad. You keep being an inspiration.