PITTSBURGH, PA - APRIL 6: Brent Johnson #1 of the Pittsburgh Penguins makes a glove save against the Washington Capitals in the second period at Mellon Arena on April 6, 2009 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Brent Johnson, this is where we part ways.
When the Pittsburgh Penguins left the Wells Fargo Center ice on April 22, almost everyone knew it would be the last time Johnson suited up in black and gold. With Ray Shero signing Tomas Vokoun this morning to a two-year deal at $2 million a year, it became official.
It had to be done. The purpose of the backup goalie was to, well...backup the starter. Johnson did a stellar job in the 2010-2011 season when Marc-Andre Fleury continuously wet the bed (and many demanded Johnson take over the starting position), but he couldn't get it together the following season. Appearing in 16 games, he registered a 6-7-2 record. His record the season before was 13-5-3. His save percentage dropped from 0.922 to 0.883.
That says it all.
Despite his shortcomings, "One Punch" Johnson can leave the Pens knowing we will always remember his iron fist and obsession with Nirvana.
We all remember that moment and will do so for many years to come.
Brent Johnson vs Rick Dipietro Hockey Fight (via vimike77)
It was the moment a cult was born. Johnson sent Rick DiPietro down yet another path of humiliation with one solid KO punch, and the Pens, especially Fleury, couldn't contain the laughs as Johnson was relieved of his duties for the final 16 seconds of the game. He wasn't even awarded the shutout he earned, but it didn't matter. His left hook became a talking point for weeks, to the understandable distaste of the New York Islanders (and we all know what happened the following time those two teams met).
Let's face it (see what I did there?), in 10 years, the DiPietro punch is what will be remembered most when we look back at Johnson's three seasons as a Penguin, but that wasn't his only contribution to the team. He had his moments, here are a few of them:
This moment appeared in my Smile-Worthy Moments article. Johnson anchored a Pens win despite unlimited time on a 5 on 3 penalty kill in the final minutes of the game.
Brent Johnson makes game-saving toe save 12/3/11 (via NHLVideo)
Who doesn't love a good 2008/2009 Stanley Cup Final rematch? Again, in the final minutes of the game, Johnson stonewalls a 2-on-1 attempt to send the game to a shootout.
Brent Johnson sprawling pad save 3/21/11 (via NHLVideo)
And here was the shootout. Johnson gave the Wings nothing.
This was one of those moments where your heart stops. The puck is gliding inches from the goal line and Johnson is beat. You hang your head, ready to hear the goal horn sound. Instead, Johnson lunges from the post to keep the Canes goal total at a goose egg.
Brent Johnson goal line save 10/30/10 (via NHLVideo)
And then another flurry of saves against the New Jersey Devils.
Brent Johnson stands tall 10/11/10 (via NHLVideo)
When Johnson was on his game, his best moments came in the third period when everything was on the line. He lived for it and thrived on it, which is why he "[Effing] loved it." It's a real shame that he couldn't get it done for the Pens but with Shero letting him walk after one bad season, it shows just how serious the Pens are about consistent backup goaltending for Fleury.
So I bid you adieu, Johnny. No other goalie will be able to touch your tricked out masks. You had some great moments with the club, but it's unfortunately your time to go.