Catching Up With: Mike Johnson

The fifth in a series of Q&As with former Coyotes

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Mike Johnson’s hockey career has a strong Forrest Gump bent to it. From his second life in juniors, to the scholarship he earned at Bowling Green State University, to the way he found his way into the Falcons’ lineup in his freshman year, and the way he found his way into the broadcast booth, Johnson’s career arc was as much a product of good fortune as it was budding talent.

By the time his improbable NHL career ended in 2008, he had played 661 games, scored 129 goals and amassed 375 points. His best seasons came in a Coyotes jersey, where he compiled 159 points in 242 games, including a 23-goal, 63-point season in 2002-03. Johnson sits 14th all-time on the Coyotes’ list of points leaders

Much like his hockey career, Johnson’s decade-long broadcasting career was also a product of being in the right place at the right time. I caught up with Johnson last week for a lengthy interview on his rise from youth hockey pip-squeak to NHL and broadcast star. Johnson is the fifth former Coyote profiled in AZ Coyotes Insider’s Catching Up With series.

You have described your NHL career as happenstance on various occasions. Can you explain that?

If you go back to when I was like 7, 8, 9, 10, I was quite good and playing Triple A hockey. I was one of the best players in Toronto, but I was just incredibly late to puberty, to growing, to any of that. By the time I got to high school, I was playing Single A hockey, which is a step above house league, a step above beginners. I had no problem with it. I wasn’t devastated when I dropped out of Triple A and moved down just to have fun and enjoy playing. At that point, it wasn't so much fun because I wasn't very good because I was so tiny.

How big were you at that point?

When I went into high school I was 4-foot-11. When I got my license in the 11th grade, it said 159 centimeters (5 feet and 2.5984 inches). So there were no great expectations and there was no great crisis in our house about what I was going to do. Hockey was never part of anything I was planning on doing once I got to high school. I played tons of basketball and tennis, too. I was just a normal high school kid that was going to go to a normal Canadian university and take business and work on the Canadian version of Wall Street. I was going to work on Bay Street. That's what I wanted to do.

What changed those plans?

It wasn't until grade 11 and grade 12 when I started to grow a little bit. I moved up to Double A with the same group of guys. Then my sister (Jennifer), who was the preeminent athlete in my family by far and played soccer, she got a scholarship. She was on the provincial team and she nibbled around the national team. She was really, really good. She got a scholarship down to Florida. I was about to go into grade 13 and I thought, ‘Well, if Jen got a scholarship, shoot, I can get one.’

So I tried out for some junior teams around Toronto because that is the usual route. I tried for the one closest to where I grew up and got cut. I tried for the next one and got cut. I got cut by three teams before I eventually landed in Aurora. I left that team after 10 games because I had one goal and two assists so I clearly wasn't good enough to get a scholarship. I was going to go back to high school and not play hockey.

Then the coach changed, the new coach came in and asked me to come back and I did OK. The other sliding door moment for me was at the league all-star game. The number of players you got to send was based on where you were in the standings. My team was going to be sending three players and I was very clearly the fourth or fifth. One of the guys who was supposed to be going was named Tyler Fee. I’ll never forget him. He was already in university and he said, ‘You know what, I have nothing to gain by going to the all-star game. Why don’t you let Mike go?’ He gave up his spot, I played in the game, my team lost 8-1, I got one assist and Alyn McCauley, my future teammate with the Leafs, got four goals and six points, but I was in the game so my name was on the scouts’ radar. 

The all-star game was on a Friday. Sunday night, all of the same scouts were still in Toronto, not to see me, but just because they had been there for the all-star game. I got my one and only hat trick of the season in that game and there were dozens of scouts at the game. On Monday morning, l had multiple scholarship offers. That’s how I got to Bowling Green.

How did your career at Bowling Green take off?

I was on the fifth line my freshman year and I was not going to play the first game. The weekend before the first game, one of my future roommates was at a bar and had a beer in his hand and he stepped out on the sidewalk. He got a ticket for an open container in public. (Bowling Green coach) Jerry York, who is quite a disciplinarian, said, ‘Listen, I can’t have you play. So now, Mike, you’re going to play in the first game.’ I played in the first game and I got five points. I only ended up with 20 on the year but I got five the first game and then I was off and running in my college career. It was just luck, luck and more luck.

After my second year I was doing pretty well. I was fourth or fifth in scoring in my league and I went to a summer camp. At that time, Team Canada would play as a team all summer and they would play in the Izvestia tournament (Nnthe Channel One Cup), the Spengler Cup and then the Olympics. I went to a tryout camp after my second year and they asked me to go back and try out in Calgary, but I would have had to forgo my scholarship so I didn't do it. But at that camp, Dan Marr, who is now the head of NHL Central Scouting, he was a scout for the Leafs and he was just there scouring, as they do. He came to my house that summer and said, ‘Listen you're pretty good. We’ll watch you and good luck the next couple summers.’

At that point, I was thinking maybe I could play in the American league or in Europe for a couple of years before I go and start my life. That was the first flavor but I was not drafted that summer. I was actually eligible after freshman year and then the lockout hit. My third year, I broke my wrist so I didn’t play all of the games and then in my fourth year I played well and had a ton of goals and it was evident by November and December that I could turn pro and play in some capacity.

It’s always dicey because you’re not really supposed to have family advisors but I guess I had a family advisor. Teams would come around and express their interest to him or my coach. I finished my college career on a Friday night and we decided Toronto would be the best place for me to go because they were no good and they needed right wingers.

Can you tell us about your quick turnaround from your last game at Bowling Green to your first game with the Leafs?

We lost to Michigan (7-2) in my last college game. That was on a Friday. We thought we’d get the contract done over the weekend and I’d turn pro the next week, so I figured I had some time.

I was maybe asleep for 60 minutes when my agent called me at 6 in the morning on Saturday. He was like, ‘Things are moving fast. What do you think about going to Tampa to play for Toronto right now?’

I could barely think. It had been a late night. We were out, doing all of the things that you would do with your college friends when the end of your career happens. We were drinking and reminiscing and singing and having fun and we were out until 5 in the morning -- normal college behavior. 

My agent was like, ‘Just go back to bed and I’ll call you later.’ But I’m like, ‘I can’t go back to bed now! I have an NHL contract.’ I jumped on a plane on Saturday and it was a rugged travel day. Flight to Detroit, jumped on another plane down to Tampa and I was not in a good way. But I played against Tampa on Sunday, we won (3-1), I got an assist, I got cut for 10 stitches over my eye in the first game ever in my life without a mask, so lesson learned there. 

The other thing I remember is I didn’t know any of the players. I didn’t know who was playing for the Leafs even though I was from Toronto. I was living in Ohio so I wasn’t paying any attention and you couldn't watch them like you can now. It was very nerve-wracking to go into the room. It was Larry Murphy, super nice guy and Hall-of-Famer, who came up to me. I’m terrified, like 10 minutes before the game. He says, ‘Kid, whatever it is that you do, just do that and you’ll be fine. You’re here for a reason.’ And then he walked away. I was like, ‘OK, that’s what I’ll try to do.” It wasn't overwhelming. Tampa wasn't overly good. I played 18 minutes. I played on the penalty kill and on the power play. It felt normal.

It wasn't until the next game, which was a home game against Philadelphia with Eric Lindros and John LeClair and Mikael Renberg; the Legion of Doom. That's when I realized I’m not really good in this league. These guys were huge and fast and I didn't have the puck once the whole game. It was a very different experience from my first game.

How would you describe the experience of playing for your hometown team in a hockey-crazed city?

It was great and honestly, I didn’t know any better. I thought all NHL towns were like Toronto; that supportive. It was cool to have my sister and my parents and my buddies from high school go through it with me and to be at my games. My first game, I must have had 100 people there. I think it was a benefit to have people around who knew me when I was 4-foot-11. My friends were not people I had met in the NHL. That kept me grounded. They called me on my nonsense, told me when I wasn’t doing well and complimented me when I was. 

I think I lived at home in my high school bedroom until November of my rookie year. Home cooking and all the rest, so that was nice as well.

Did you feel pressure, playing in front of that hockey fan base?

I loved it because I was pretty good my rookie year. I led all rookies in scoring (Johnson tied for the rookie points lead with Sergei Samsonov at 47 and finished fourth in Calder Trophy voting). There wasn’t a lot of downside to it. People talk about the pressure of playing in Toronto but I didn’t feel any of it because I wasn't supposed to be very good. I wasn’t drafted so whatever I was doing was gravy. I was getting positive attention for whatever I did and even when I would go like 10 games without a goal, it would be like, ‘What are you going to say to me? I’m not supposed to be very good.’

There was no social media; only one sports channel. It was such a different time. If you weren't reading the paper and listening to sports radio, you didn’t see it that much. People wouldn't know your face. Now with social media, everyone knows what everyone looks like.

A lot of NHL players have described their first trade as a shock. Did your trade to Tampa evoke similar feelings? 

It was definitely a shock. It was brutal. It was a game day, we were playing Philly and it was the first game after the All-Star break. I was sleeping and usually I turned my phone off. For whatever reason, I didn’t and the phone rang in the middle of the day. I was passed out. I groggily answered and it was (coach/GM) Pat Quinn. This is verbatim, so put a clock on this conversation. 

‘Hi Mike. Pat Quinn.’ 

I’m like, ‘Oh. Hey, Pat.’ 

He said, ‘Listen, we made a trade involving you. To get something, you’ve got to give something. That’s you. Someone from Tampa is going to call you and we wish all the best and thank you very much. Goodbye.’ 

I hung up the phone and I was so tired I couldn’t remember what team he said I was going to. I literally wasn't sure where I was traded. I sat there for 20 minutes. Then I called my agent, my parents, and my sister. They were all at work with their normal lives. I sat there for 30 minutes, devastated because I was leaving Toronto and they were very good, but not sure where I was going. We had lost in the semifinals the year before and I was going to Tampa who were really bad. I was thinking, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ It was crappy. I’m not going to lie. It was not a fun feeling.

How would you encapsulate going from hockey mecca to what was, at that time, a hockey outpost?

It was the opposite on the spectrum in every sense of the word. It was no good. 

This sums it up. I was at the Kroger, getting groceries. I went through the aisle and paid for groceries, $100. They’re like, ‘Here you go.’ I was like, ‘What’s this?’ They gave me two Lightning tickets. They said anyone who spends $50 gets two tickets. I’m thinking, ‘Oh, my god. What is this? You’re not in Kansas any more.’

You try to spin it and say, new opportunity, I get to play more, I get to play first power play and I can be an important player, but it took a while to get over it and move on with my career and stop pouting that I was no longer a Maple Leaf. When I played in Arizona, I really enjoyed living there but when I was in Tampa, maybe it was just my first time being away from Toronto that affected me. I was living on a golf course way out in the suburbs. I was only 25. I’m a city person. It was just a culture shock in every way.

What do you remember about your trade to the Coyotes in 2001?

Same kind of call late at night. I was sitting with my girlfriend and she answered the phone and she turned to me in this excited but hushed voice: ‘It’s Wayne Gretzky! It’s Wayne Greztky.’ I was way more excited about that. I kind of knew it was coming and I wasn’t devastated to leave Tampa. I should have known when (former Coyotes executive) Cliff Fletcher was working for Arizona that I was likely to find myself there. He got me to Toronto, then took me to Tampa and then took me to Arizona.

It was different from Tampa because they were right on the edge of the playoffs. I got there and had never been hurt before, but the second or third game in Arizona, I separated my shoulder. I never got into the flow of the team and we ended up missing the playoffs by a couple of points with (Jeremy Roenick) and (Keith Tkachuk) and Joe Juneau. They had a lot of older guys so I never really got integrated. It was nobody’s fault. I was just on the periphery. I couldn’t jump in right away.

It took you a while to get your legs in Arizona. In your first full season, you had five goals and 27 points, which was dramatically different from what you did the following season. What happened?

I blame ‘01-’02 on Sulli (laughs). I had to play with (current Penguins coach) Mike Sullivan and he was afraid to cross the red line. I joke, but I was playing on the fourth line and all he cared about was not getting scored on so we just played defense the whole time. It was frustrating for me. I had never played like that and I didn't want to play like that. I got hurt again, too. I think I had a knee injury, an MCL, thank you Scott Hartnell. 

It really wasn't until down the stretch that I started feeling good. I think I had five points in my first 25 games, which is just atrocious, and then in my last 32 games I had like 22 points. I got paired up with Danny Briere and he helped me out and played with Ladislav Nagy a little bit, too, and Daymond Langkow. I found some chemistry on a more prominent line so it was role and confidence and then when it got going, it got going pretty good.

What do you remember about your first home game at America West Arena?

This is a great memory. I walked in and Walt (Keith Tkachuk) was the captain. He walks out in this bathrobe and it says Big Walt on it. It was monogrammed, as it should be. He was Big Walt. He’s like, ‘Mike, I’m Big Walt.’ I’m like, ‘Hey, Walt.” And he says, ‘No, it’s Big Walt.” I’m like, ‘OK. I’m good. OK, Big Walt.’ And then he says, ‘Listen, there’s two rules on this team.’ 

I’m thinking, ‘Always be on time’ or something like that, and he says, ‘Always pass the puck to (No.) 7 (Tkachuk’s number). And Rule No.2 is, ‘Don’t ever fucking forget Rule No. 1.’ And then he walked away. 

How did that locker room accommodate two personalities as big as Tkachuk and Roenick?

I would always laugh because J.R.’s license plate said Styles and his sticks said Styles 97. I’m thinking, ‘OK, the bigger-than-life personality is certainly true,’ but I found J.R., in the short time we were teammates, to be a great teammate. I wasn't sure if he would get along but he was very accommodating, always reaching out to see if I needed anything. ‘Do you want to come over? Do you want some home-cooked meals? Do you want to use my car?’ He was really nice. Unfortunately, we only played together for a few weeks. 

To answer your question about that locker room, it depended on who you were. You either jumped right in the mix or enjoyed the sideshow that they were. I was new so I kind of sat back and enjoyed the festivities. 

Bobby Francis won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s best coach in 2002. What was it like playing for him, and have you kept up with him through his difficulties?

I haven't spoken or been in contact with Bobby, but I do understand that he has been through quite a challenging time. For me, he was great. He treated me so well and believed in me as a player, he played me more than anyone else and my best years were with him. He appreciated the way I played and got the best out of me. He gave me the full-time assistant captain which was a really cool and a big honor. 

He asked one time in training camp: ‘What preseason games do you want to play in?’ I was like, ‘Excuse me? Whatever ones you tell me to coach.’ It was those little moments where the relationship was built. He was good to me and he was obviously a good coach. He won coach of the year. It is certainly sad to hear about his deteriorating health condition and everything else that he has gone through. He was full of energy. He was always on that treadmill, running 10,000 miles a day. 

You also had the opportunity to play for Gretzky. How would you describe that experience?

It was awesome. Gretz was my hero growing up. To have him be your coach was really cool. When you’d do something well, it resonated deeper when he would tell you, ‘Hey, that’s a really good game, Mike.’ At the same time, if he took you off the power player, you reacted the same way you did if any other coach did it, like, ‘Man, that coach doesn’t know what he’s doing (laughs).’ 

You got over the fact that it was Wayne Gretzky after a few weeks, but it must have been weird for him, too. You’d be doing 2-on-1 drills and nobody could score and he’d be on the bench shaking his head. You know he’s thinking, ‘These guys are so bad,’ but he never said anything like that and I liked playing for him because he was so emotionally engaged in the games. He was fiery and screaming at us and the refs. He knew the camera was on him and he didn’t care. I guess that is what made him a success as a player, but I wasn’t sure if we’d get that or if he’d be detached and reserved because he’s Wayne Gretzky. It was just cool to be around him. When you’re 7 years old watching “Hockey My Way” by Wayne Gretzky, you wouldn't think that 25 years later he would be coaching you.

Why do you think it ultimately didn’t work out for Gretzky as a coach?

The team wasn't good enough and he probably needed a little more time. It’s hard to coach, it’s a lot of work. It’s experience. It’s reps and he was getting those reps with a team that wasn’t great. That’s tricky. Give him a great team and a little more time and I think he would have been just fine.

Did you like playing at America West Arena?

I did, but it was quirky. The basketball court was behind our dressing room, but then the other team had to go behind our dressing room and past the court to get to their locker room. I remember it was Vaclav Varada who hit Krys Kolanos from behind and drove him headfirst into the boards. It kind of derailed his career (with a concussion). We were in the dressing room. Varada was kicked out of the game and he was walking behind our room and (former goalie) Sean Burke jumped out in the hallway to challenge him to a fight. It was amazing. The weird configuration always led to some interesting moments in that back hallway. 

Did you like the Whiteout?

No, because we never won when I was in Arizona when it was on. It’s a very cool tradition but other teams do similar stuff and it didn't resonate too deeply with me. It was neat, but I’d rather have people wear regular clothes and us win a few games. 

Who were the most underrated players you played with in Arizona?

Lady (Nagy) was the most talented player we had on those teams. He was more talented than Shane or Mike Comrie or Langks. For two or three years there, he was basically a point-a-game player and should have been in All-Star games. He was perfect for me. He had the right attitude that helped me, he could score goals, which helped me, and he probably needed some help defensively so I could help him. We were just a good fit. He was a really gregarious guy for being a Slovakian and the English language maybe not being the easiest. You have to understand: Lady is celebrated, feted as a Slovakian hero. He is loved there for his play internationally.

As far as other guys, Langks for sure. He was so quiet and just wouldn't say boo ever, but he was just a fierce competitor, showed up, never got hurt, played hard and played bigger than he was. He’d put a dip in his mouth, go home and call it a day, but every night, he was so good.

And then certainly Danny Briere before he became Danny Briere. You could see that he had something special going on and he was going to be really good. 

How about Landon Wilson?

Willie was way more talented than he would get credit for. I remember we used to do tip drills and he would go like 20 for 20. He had great hand-eye, a big shot, and a good enough skater. I say this respectfully, but I think the one thing that maybe held him back is he was very nice. He was such a good person. He wasn’t mean by nature and he had the body and kind of game that if he was mean like Walt, he could have done more. He could have been a 15-20 goal scorer for like a decade in this league and the eye injury was really a shame and that was a scary night. I went to the hospital. He came back and played a bit; he was never quite the same. 

Your final trade was to Montreal in 2006. Was it hard to leave Arizona?

Definitely. I had been in Arizona a long time. We had a house there, the kids were born there and I think I had 55 points the year before, but when you go six years in one place, that’s long enough to be considered a good run and I enjoyed playing in Montreal. I wish I had been able to sign there for a longer time, but it was hard to leave Arizona. It was as comfortable as I had been anywhere in the NHL. You know it's a business and I don't think I ever lost that understanding, but you're there long enough and you start to care about the people. You care about the franchise. You care about Rich Nairn. You care about Stan Wilson. You care about the staff. It matters to you and you want this franchise to succeed. 

You played briefly in Sweden during the lockout year. What made you play in Germany after your final season in the NHL in St. Louis?

It was another shoulder injury that ended my NHL career in St. Louis because I didn't feel like trying out for a team and I didn't want to go to the minors. I didn’t want to sign a two-way contract and I didn’t like being a fourth line player or a healthy scratch in St. Louis. Part of that was my fault because I played crappy, but I just didn’t want to try and prove myself all over again. 

I rehabbed my latest surgery, got healthy and then Todd Warriner, a former teammate of mine in Arizona and Toronto and Tampa, had played in Cologne. He called and said there was this opportunity and the city was great. I thought, ‘You know what? This could be fun to go have an adventure’ so I went and it was the year of the financial meltdown. 

A lot of stuff changed for the business of hockey over there like getting paid on time. The coach got fired. It didn’t go well and I don’t know if they were trying to cut costs, but I was one of their highest paid players so they wanted me to go home. They didn’t tell me that in as many words, but the third coach they brought in was a German guy, and there were games where I would not play for a whole period and there'd be a 15-year-old German kid playing eight minutes. I remember thinking, ‘He might be better than me someday but he’s probably not better than me now.’ So it was like. if they make my life difficult enough, maybe I’ll decide to pack it up and then they won’t have to pay me. It wasn't a harmonious time to end my playing career around the new year, but I also learned then that I was OK with stopping playing. I didn’t have it in me and I wasn’t going to miss it so it was easy to retire at that point.

Did you get to enjoy any part of living in Germany?

Europe is very different from North America and there was proximity to so many other countries and then learning about Germany was great. At the same time, it's not a holiday. They treat it as seriously as the NHL. It’s just not the NHL. You’re practicing every day. It’s not this wanderlust European vacation that you make it out to be in your mind. I liked the city. My kids were enrolled in an English school, the churches and the restaurants and the history were amazing. Everything else was great; hockey just wasn’t. 

What were you planning to do when you retired?

I thought I was going to put my business degree to use. I had waited 12 years to do it. I got a job and I was working for my certifications again because they had expired. I was getting ready to go back to work and then I got a call for a radio show which led into another, which led into a hockey show and TSN and NHL Network. I just stumbled into it. I had planned on starting my financial analyst job.

Johnson on the NHL Network set with Kathryn Tappen (left), Barry Melrose (second from right) and Kevin Weekes (right) during the 2014 Stanley Cup Final at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California (Getty Images)

Are you enjoying yet another unexpected turn in your life?

I like TV because it’s spontaneous. It’s not scripted. I don't know if I’d do well in an office, going in and doing the same thing every day. I like having to think on your feet. Every day and every game is a little different. I liked that you didn’t know what you were going to get when you showed up every day.

Can you walk us through the progression of your broadcast career?

I started with NHL Network radio and TV, worked my way into TSN studio shows, calling games at the World Championship in 2010 or  2011. I moved up to calling national games at TSN while still working for NHL Network. Then Rogers won the rights in Canada (beginning with the 2014-15 season) so I went to Rogers for a couple years and still worked at NHL Network and did some stuff at NBC. I left Rogers, went back to TSN and for the last four years I have called regional games for TSN, worked in the studio, all different platforms, worked at NHL Network and NBC until they lose the rights next year. And I still do XM Radio. I work for a bunch of different people but it has been good.

What’s the funniest hiccup from your broadcast career?

I have never sworn or fallen asleep or fallen off a chair, but I remember we came back on air one time, Kevin Weekes, Kathryn Tappen and I up in Toronto. We were on air and we didn’t know it. We were just sitting there in silence for at least 45 seconds. There have been lots of little moments like that but, knock on wood, nothing too crazy.

You are also dispensing fantasy and betting advice on TSN’s “Inside Edge.” Did you expect to venture into that arena? 

Betting and gambling is an untapped market and a new frontier for hockey. It's hard to do in hockey, but I think we are seeing more and more in-game betting. More states are making it legal and more provinces are making it legal. It’s going to be a big part of the sports viewing experience. Live betting before the game or prop bets during the game, whatever it is, it will be a big revenue generator for the sport. I am absolutely going to stick with it and try to become as good as I can.

I had a good year this year and got a lot of stuff right. I set way too high a bar and it won’t happen again next year, but for a debut year, it went well. I know how to gamble. I have done enough of it in my life so I know the terms and the ideas. It was just how hockey works, how to choose, how to bet. I had never really looked at hockey carefully from that perspective.

Do you play fantasy?

I don’t play fantasy. I advise my friends who do well in their leagues but that’s the extent of it. The lifetime leagues? I can’t make that kind of commitment. I can't be in a league for 20 years. That's crazy. I have a family. They deserve my time (laughs).

How did you survive COVID-19? 

It was challenging although you know what, by setting up the technology to do these things, I was probably busier this year than I've ever been, in a great way. I am so thankful to all the people I work for to find ways to keep us up and on air and working. Doing NHL Network and TSN shows and radio shows from my house in Toronto was great. TSN still found ways to get us to games in Montreal and Ottawa and other places, too.

My kids are well into high school so fortunately I didn’t have to do a lot of teaching.They were self sufficient so that was really a good break for me. But I’m in Ontario, so I can't say I learned how to play tennis because you just had to stay home. You couldn’t do anything.

My wife (Martha) and I have two daughters (Taylor, 17, Mackenzie, 15 ) and it was way harder for them. They’re going through a really tough time in their lives -- things all adolescent kids go through -- so the lack of social interactions and the isolation and the lack of structure with schooling was tough, but my kids are amazing. They are bright and independent and driven so it wasn't a challenge from that point. But there were days where we called it the COVID cloud. They were in a bad mood and I got it. I was just like, ‘Let's not have it last for weeks,’ but yeah, you’re depressed, you're frustrated, you’re angry, you’re irritated and it all makes sense. Like everybody in the world, we had moments where we felt like that.

There is this weird Scarborough, Ontario-Coyotes connection with you and Rick Tocchet and Michael Bunting all hailing from that town. Do you actually all know each other?

Toc and I are a lot closer in age and he was my assistant coach while I was in Arizona. I was over at the World Championship and I wanted to get together with Mike to ask stuff like, ‘Where are you from in Scarborough,? Which high school did you attend? What's your deal?’ But we weren't able to see each other because they were in a bubble. 

I knew who Toc was growing up but we weren’t tight because he was older enough. Scarborough is a big place (population 632,098) and a lot of hockey players come out of there so there’s a lot of shared ties throughout the league.

What will you be doing during the Cup Final?

I’ll be on site in Montreal with NHL Network and also contributing to TSN studio shows. I’ll do an XM radio show every day from 10-11 a.m.

A decade into your broadcasting career, do you think you have settled into something that you will do for the rest of your professional life?

A lot of people have asked me this. I love my job. I love my career. I could do it for a long time but I also like challenges, I like new things. I have thought about working in other areas of hockey. I have thought about working in management. I don’t think I have coaching in me, but I think I have management in me. The idea of running numbers, managing a cap, team building, business, all that stuff I think I would like to try so we'll see what comes up over the years. My kids will be off to university soon so there will be greater life flexibility and mobility. Again, I love my job and I have no intention of leaving my job but I’ll never say never.

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Follow Craig Morgan on Twitter: @CraigSMorgan