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This is a very hard one to write.
I began getting rumblings early Monday morning about the possibility of former Predators captain, Greg Johnson passing away at the age of 48. I began in a state of denial… nah… that can’t be true. But it ended up being true… and it sucks.
Greg Johnson was drafted 33rd overall in the 1989 NHL Entry Draft and was acquired by the Preds during the 1998 expansion draft from the Chicago Blackhawks. He was a member of the first Predators team and was the second captain in team history. He played 504 of his 784 career NHL games for the Predators.
I know that longtime Predators fans will remember him taking the opening faceoff in the inaugural game and being involved in the first goal ever scored by the Predators. The bond the first team formed was amazing and they mostly remain friends to this day. In talking to a couple of his teammates from back in the day, they are all simply stunned, even a few days later… they use the same phrase… “he was the best.” Best friend, best teammate…
Greg Johnson was a gentle soul… soft spoken, incredibly likable, an all-around good person, a solid leader, a hard-working hockey player that Nashville watched come into his own. And Johnson… or “Johnny” as he was known in the room, was a key cog in building hockey in Nashville… always involved in the community, he helped teach a new market about the game and giving back whenever he could. Nashville isn't Smashville without Greg Johnson.
He wasn’t the best player to play the game, but he may have been one of the best men to play the game. His name will be forever etched in the hearts of Pred fans everywhere. Heartfelt prayers and best wishes go out to his wife Kristin and his daughters, Carson and Piper. Know that Greg left a legacy in Nashville.
Rest easy captain… you will never be forgotten in Nashville.
Pete Weber wrote a very nice piece on the Preds website about Greg, he included this video of Terry Crisp interviewing the captain in 2013.