I spoke with Jack Johnson today, but he continued to insist that he wasn’t planning on coming back until after the all-star break. I’ve got to give Jack credit. He’s been very consistent with the “I’m not coming back early” quotes, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that he would be coming back early. And, of course, barring any setbacks, he’s coming back early. Johnson did say that he doesn’t need any minor-league rehab games and that he feels strong. As previously posted, he has been cleared for contact in practice. Here’s what Terry Murray said today about Johnson’s status…
MURRAY: “He’s moving along really well. You could see him today. He was doing a lot of the battling drills along the boards, and that’s where we want to make sure that everything is solid. He’s doing extra work at the end of the practice, pushing and battling, and then as you get finished up, it’s `How are you feeling? How are you doing?’ at the end of practice. He’s real close. I’m penciling him in. He’s that close, for me. It’s not going to be tomorrow, it’s not going to be…well, I don’t know after that. It will not be tomorrow. I do have him penciled in, I am writing him into the lineup now and I’m looking forward to getting the games underway.”
Question: So you’re definitely looking at (a return) before the all-star break now?
MURRAY: “Well, I’ll have to have some conversations with several people before I answer that, but it’s very close to happening.”
Question: Obviously there are a few dynamics, Doughty’s injury being one of them, but have you thought about where Jack might fit in?
MURRAY: “Oh yeah. I’ve thought about it a lot, and put down a lot of defensive pairings. That’s not going to be an issue. When he’s ready to go, he’s in. There’s no hesitation on that side of it.”
Question: Is it safe to say he will be on the left side, or would you look at the right side?
MURRAY: “You know, I don’t know if he has ever played the right side. I’ve never talked to him about that. That would be interesting, with the way he can shoot the puck, 5-on-5 and on the power play, that would be a big advantage, but I don’t know if he has ever played there or not.”