JOHNSON TO HAVE SURGERY
By Sergey Kocharov
Prior to tonight’s impressive 4-3 overtime victory over the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim; the Phoenix Coyotes learned that forward Mike Johnson will undergo shoulder surgery that will sideline him for three-to-five months.__
The results of a magnetic resonance imaging test revealed that the 29-year-old Johnson has a torn labrum muscle in his shoulder._ Johnson – who believes he sustained the injury last season in a game at Carolina – could of continued to play with a bum shoulder, but lastly opted to have the surgery after learning the risk involved with playing with the injury.
“When it was all explained to me, it wasn’t an easy decision, but it was the right one for me,” said Johnson, who will have the surgery on Tuesday and will be performed by Cleveland based Dr. Tony Miniaci._ “The risks were too severe for me. They said that if I continue to play, there’s a chance I could tear my rotator cuff._ So, therefore, hockey-wise and life-wise I think it was the right decision to make.”
Phoenix General Manager Mike Barnett echoed Johnson’s sentiments._
“From our perspective, getting it done now is the best thing for him,” said Barnett. “He has many years left in his career._ By not dealing with this high level of injury would be worse and potentially might send his career back.
“When you see a guy icing down his shoulder for so many nights after the game, you know it’s something more than an occasional shoulder pain. So it’s time to get it fixed.”
The Coyotes will surely miss Johnson’s presence on the ice._ He’s been the most consistent Coyote for the past two years and was constantly among team leaders in ice time._
Without Johnson, head coach
Bob Francis is forced to shuffle his lines – especially the first line, which has been the most productive line with Johnson, Daymond Langkow and Ladislav Nagy._
_“For the most part he played on a line that was one of our best,” said Barnett. “Mike Johnson is a solid two-way hockey player._ As much as he creates on the offense, he’s just responsible on the defensive end as well. And we’ll miss that the most.”
When asked if he would pursue a trade or sign a player via free agency to compensate for Johnson’s injury, Barnett quickly downplayed the suggestion and added that the help should come within the roster.
“It’s an opportunity for guys like Danny (Cleary) and Branko (Radivojevic) to step up and have an opportunity to get more minutes and contribute._ At the present time we’re not looking to do anything.”
And if they continue to play like they did tonight, they won’t need to.
With Johnson’s injury and a desperate need to unearth some offense, Francis reshuffled his lines in tonight’s come-from-behind overtime victory._ The trio that appeared to have the most success was the “Slovak Line” with Nagy, Radivojevic and Jan Hrdina as they combined for two goals and three assists.
“When you lose a guy like Jonny, everybody else will have to make up for it,” said Burke, who turned aside 23 of 26 shots. “Jonny brings so much to our team. It’s extremely disappointing to lose him to injury, but we’ll have to find a way to persevere._
And they did just that tonight.