NHL veteran makes two year commitment to Sheffield Steelers - now club has just one more player to unveil
The incredible life-journey of NHL veteran Aaron Johnson is to take in a two year tour of Sheffield.
Steelers have signed the 35-year old defenceman whose astonishing career has seen him don the shirts of Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders, Chicago Blackhawks, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and the Boston Bruins.
That stint accounts for 291 games in the greatest league on earth and was embroidered by 17 goals 45 assists and 227 penalty minutes.
Johnson had been been drafted back in 2001 - when 18-year-old Liam Kirk (the Steeler who made history when he was drafted in June) was just 18 months old.
Johnson also played 455 AHL League and play off games, captaining Hartford Wolf Pack, Binghamton Senators and Stockton Heat.
The Nova Scotia-born player, who for the past two seasons has played in the German DEL for Adler Mannheim, has been wooed to South Yorkshire partly by the award of a two year MBA course at the University of Sheffield.
He is the last, oldest and most decorated member of the 2018-19 D-corps.
“My wife and I enjoy to travel” he said. “We have visited the UK before and loved our time here. That visit whetted the appetite to return. When my German agent first mentioned Britain, Sheffield and then the possibility of the MBA it pricked the interest to investigate this opportunity more.
“I then spoke with Paul (Thompson; coach) and struck up a good rapport with him.
“My research on Sheffield was thorough. I spoke with friends and colleagues who had played in Britain and in the end came to the conclusion that two years with the Steelers and the University of Sheffield was the place for my family and I.”
Johnson says his views of what style of player he is has changed over the years.
“I guess 20 years ago I’d answer the question differently than today” he said. “My skating is the part of my game that has kept me playing at this level.
“I’ve played for teams where I’ve been an offensive defenceman and I’ve played for teams where I’ve been asked to be a defensive defenceman.
“I guess the answer is I love to play, love to make plays but I’ll also block shots and contain. Whatever the team needs”.
Thompson said: “Aaron completes our D core.
“I can’t explain how much work went into bringing Aaron to the Steelers, from ownership down.
“The University of Sheffield and I must also give a shout out to Evan McGrath (new forward signing) for his input.
“It’s been a long process but one certainly worth the wait.
“You only have to look at Aaron’s CV to know we have signed a quality player. As well as the impressive North American career you add Mannheim one of Europe’s top clubs.
“An American League captain for three different teams tells you about the leadership and respect he brings with him.
“A huge thank you to everyone at the University of Sheffield for their assistance. I know we have signed a great player and I know they have signed a great student”
“We will announce our final signing next week and our roster will be complete.”