You Don’t Have To Convince Me Jack Johnson Sucks For Me To Like Jeff Carter

Since I frothed at the mouth in typeface yesterday, I’ve seen a general trend: Kings’ fans are happy with this deal. As someone who was pronouncedly pissed off when I learned of that deal, let me send a shocker your way. They should be. The Kings are likely a better team now than they were 48 hours ago. I say likely because they were also supposed to be a better team 4 months ago than they were 14 months ago. Things don’t always work out they way they should.

What pisses me off more than the deal itself ever could, is the reason why people are over the moon with the trade and utterly perplexed and/or holier-than-thou-ly annoyed that others are not. I don’t see many people saying “Jeff Carter rules!” Jeff Carter does rule, and I’m happy to talk about that, but what I mostly see is “Jack Johnson sucks”

I’ve never seen so much use of Corsi stats. You know, those things that are more complicated than the tax code? The same stats that when looked at on the face value they are used to assess Jack Johnson’s poor play simultaneously purport that Peter Harrold is a damn good NHL defensemen. This article has been linked to me about 12 different times. In it you will see a bunch of boxes with the name “Johnson” appearing at the bottom. His name at the bottom apparently means he is a terrible hockey player. You will then see, in the those same boxes, that Peter Harrold is at the top of many of them as well.

In the same categories that I am being told with such fervor that me thinking Jack Johnson is a good player is merely a figment of my imagination, Peter Harrold is excelling, yet nobody is telling me how lucky the Kings were to have him. In a category that supposedly tells me how much I should think of a player offensively, Johnson is again at the bottom, a fact lauded over heads like rats in the kitchen by the health inspector. Yet this same chart tells me that the Kings are just as well off offensively with Matt Greene on the ice as they are Drew Doughty.

Then there is this article, which at least admits that Johnson has tons of potential, but then goes on to essentially try and make the point that Wade Belak, Jason Strudwick, Ryan Parent, Oskars Bartulis, Deryk Engelland, and Brendan Mikkelson are the only defensemen in the NHL who are worse than Jack. At least when I go overboard I admit I am doing either to be funny or because I’m reacting emotionally. These stats are emotions masquerading as objectivity. No wonder these people don’t care about Lombardi’s integrity, they have none with regards to their own thoughts. Objectivity doesn’t lead one to believe Jack Johnson is the 7th worst defenseman in the league. Yet that’s what I’m reading, while simultaneously being told I’m crazy.

This is a fun quote:

he would have to improve a lot just to be considered mediocre

Jack Johnson has a long way to go before being considered mediocre. That’s a damning statement. No wonder people think I’m out of my head for being the least bit upset at this trade. They think Peter Harrold is a better defensemen than Jack Johnson.

It’s no mystery that I am not a big fan of stats. It should be an equally negligible mystery that defensemen take a long time to develop. I read sentiments that purport Jack Johnson is still making the same mistakes today that he was making his rookie year. Nonsense. Jack, though still prone to neurological flatulence, has improved his defensive reads every year. He must be pretty terrible to be playing big minutes (22.5 per game to be exact) on the best defensive team in the league. It all adds up. We knew Columbus GM Scott Howson was a moron, so of course he must have been ripped off in a big way by accepting the abysmal Jack Johnson in return for the illustrious Jeff Carter.

Remember how well Jack played when he was the top dog in LA while Doughty was out? That’s the player Columbus is getting. I expect Jack to shine now that he is without question the top defenseman on a team.

Jack Johnson’s ceiling is about as high as high gets for a defenseman. It always has been and it still is. At 25 years old, he is about 2-3 years away, which would put him in the middle of his deal, from hitting the prime of a defenseman’s career. If and when Jack flips that switch in a year or two, when he just ‘gets it’, like Chris Pronger and so many have before him, then this deal doesn’t look so one-sided.

Circling back to Jeff Carter, I do think the Kings are better this moment than they were before the trade. Right now Carter brings what we need, duh, and Voynov has shown to be capable of replacing Johnson’s minutes. For now. I will not say that Slava’s ceiling is as high as Johnson’s, I don’t know. I do not know if Slava will get better or worse or even maintain his play this season to the next. I hope he does but I can’t proclaim to know. I do know that Johnson has improved every year.

So I leave this day behind feeling less hostile towards the Kings than I began it. I find myself disappointed how many King fans are so eager to trash Johnson. But then again, many people have been dogging him for a long time, so I suppose high marks for consistency are in order. What I hope to see more of as the dust settles, which it won’t for several weeks – not until we’ve seen one hot streak and one cold streak from Carter, smoothing out the vitriol and adoration with which he is being seen – are Kings fans appreciating the player that left them as much as they do the one they acquired. I smirk to be called an idiot by people who equate being upset with losing Johnson to thinking that Carter doesn’t help the Kings.

Jeff Carter stands to put the Kings in a good position to improve what ails them. His shot is what this team lacks. I know this dude can score and I know he will do his fair share of it in the crown. I know this and I don’t need to belittle Jack Mother Fucking Johnson to know it.

Categories: L.A. Kings News

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48 replies

  1. JJ doesn’t suck – he just needs time and we don’t have it. It’s a shame.

    My thought is that the Kings made the trade for Carter not for what Carter can do, but for what it might do to get Richards to perform at the level he’s capable. There’s little doubt he’s underperforming, heartbreak and all – but he’s the type of guy that gives a team their character. We need 100% Richards even if we only get 75% Carter. It’s like adding the OJ to the margarita – just a touch changes everything for the better…

    • I don’t disagree with what you’re saying, but I don’t think Carter is a necessity in increasing Richards’ performance. Just about anything other than Penner and an out-of-position Jarrett Stoll could have sparked Richards, in my opinion. Even Nolan and King has had a positive effect on Richards. Just my two cents.

    • Theres no way johnson was shipped out and carter brought in just to make richards play better. I wouldnt doubt it if carter played line one with kopi and brownie. Soooooo. Do you guys think dean is done or doyou think brown and bernie might be packaged for another star winger?

  2. BTW – props to you Surly – I get where you’re coming from and you’ll find me there.

  3. “This is a fun quote:

    he would have to improve a lot just to be considered mediocre”

    I’m not trying to be an asshole or holier than thou, but damn imo, people who are stat freaks either don’t play hockey or have never played hockey. Which is understandable because how would someone know who has never played hockey, even a pickup game, where you are now playing defense and you have someone rushing up the ice trying to score. People who don’t or have never played would have Zero idea or understanding of what all the different variables are to getting burned. Let alone that these forwards are some of the Best in the World. Besides Penner that is.

    So what else do they rely on to make their assumptions? Stats what else? So if the stats are correct then Peter Harrold is a better defenseman than JJ? Does that make sense? O’Donnell a better player than JJ? Are you fucking kidding me?

    You know it’s not hard to play hockey here unless you live in Needles or Blythe. Go to your local rink, rent some skates and skate around and then try and do 1/4 the shit that JJ does. JJ, imo, is a good player. Is he elite? I don’t think he’s elite but he’s getting there. Do I think this is a desperation move even though DL swears up and down it’s not? Fuck yeah I do!

    But I don’t own a crystal ball and this team can really start to light it up and go on a tear. Who knows maybe put together a streak of 6 games. But on the other hand, I find it to be pretty fucking odd how DL stated that If the squad doesn’t make the playoffs this year then BJ will have to hold off on the 1st rounder. Kinda makes me wonder why that would even be a factor? What’s wrong Dean don’t believe in this team?

  4. Its fucking annoying, it would be great if Jack tears it up next year and scores 20plus goals, 50plus points. Fuck the Corsi.

  5. Jack Johnson has gotten better every season since he was a rookie, stats be damned. Hell, I don’t pay too much attention to +/- anyway. Truth be told, it is going to be at least a year until people should even think about declaring a “winner” in terms of this deal.

    Being part of the “Philly West” fan base, I do not think any one of us can attest to how great or horrible Jeff Carter was or is or is going to be, just like the people in Columbus probably don’t even know who JJ is, coming from a west coast team and all.

    What I do know… isn’t much. That being said, I believe JJ is going to shine being “the guy” in Columbus, and I believe Jeff Carter is going to continue to shine being “a dude that can put the gawd damn puck in the net” in L.A., and ultimately, when it comes down to pick a winner of this trade, I believe it is going to settle on “even money”.

  6. You know if stats were supposed to be gospel then why bother hiring a coach who knwos anything about hockey? Just hire a number crunching geek and then have him coach based off of that. Stats are cool but the way people worship em is weird.

  7. Summarizing it all. Carter – Johnson = Bittersweet. Guarded optimism vs. hopeful promise. Certainly polarizing. I want to be happy about the trade but am disappointed JJ is gone. Like getting the giggles at a funeral. So wrong.

  8. You will then see, in the those same boxes, that Peter Harrold is at the top of many of them as well.

    … Harrold was at the top of two of the nine columns. That’s many of them? He was only there because the writer of the article didn’t pare down the charts, as he should have, to specifically include just the Kings’ full-time defensemen.

    Anyway, I thought it was common knowledge that Harrold had played pretty effectively in the limited time he was on the ice over the last couple seasons before this one, and that if the Kings were more interested in actual on-ice results rather than how a player looks in his jersey or whatever, perhaps the Kings could have found Harrold to be a useful player.

    I read sentiments that purport Jack Johnson is still making the same mistakes today that he was making his rookie year.

    … Well, I said he was making the same mistakes on coverage that he was making three years ago, at the beginning of the Terry Murray era, and he is. He’s always been far more effective with a basic one-on-one mano y mano situation, but has constantly struggled with offenses more complex than that, particularly high/low offenses. Jack would have excelled in the 80s, in the Wales conference, particularly in the smaller rinks at that time – Buffalo’s Aud and Boston Garden.

    At 25 years old, he is about 2-3 years away, which would put him in the middle of his deal, from hitting the prime of a defenseman’s career. If and when Jack flips that switch in a year or two, when he just ‘gets it’, like Chris Pronger and so many have before him, then this deal doesn’t look so one-sided.

    … Pronger stopped being a minus player when he was 21, and he won the Norris at 25. He probably should have won it when he was 23, but Rob Blake took it that year. I don’t think it helps your argument about Jack to mention a player who was a helluva lot better than Jack is.

    Jack Johnson’s ceiling is about as high as high gets for a defenseman. It always has been and it still is.

    … I asked the computer to come up with a list of defensemen who, by the age of 25, had a) played in 325 games or more, b) scored 30 or more goals, and c) scored 120-140 points, just to get an idea of where Jack is and who his real comparables are. And, the guy I found who really stuck out was Pavel Kubina.

    Kubina, age 25 … 374 games, 43 goals, 136 points, 0.36 PPG, -96
    Jack, age 25 … 343 games, 30 goals, 124 points, 0.36 PPG, -90

    Kubina, at age 26, had his career year in Tampa in 03-04. He had a career-high 17 goals, 35 points, a career-high +9, and a career-high 11.1% shooting percentage. The Lightning, of course, went on to win the Stanley Cup that season, with Kubina leading all of their defensemen in ice time per game in the playoffs. Pavel’s offense dried up in the playoffs (no goals and 4 assists in 22 games), but his +/- was even. He held his own.

    In the season after the lockout, Kubina posted disappointing numbers, and left as a free agent for Toronto, where he had a couple of 40-point seasons. He’s 34 now, and he still plays over 19 minutes a game.

    It remains to be seen just how much Jack will progress, and whether the rest of his career will be similar to Kubina’s. I won’t put a label on Jack or try to predict what his ceiling is – this is simply a comparison as food for thought, to give us some idea of what might be expected in the future. I do wish him well; as I’ve said, his attitude and physical strength/fitness seem to be top notch. I enjoyed watching him play here, and my analysis of him wasn’t nearly as rough as those I’ve read in the last couple days. I feel he’s an average player now, with the chance to be good in the next few years. I hope he takes that step.

  9. You don’t need stats to tell you that JJ still frequently looks lost in his own zone and makes poor decisions with the puck in his own zone under pressure.

    I think your rant about statheads is a bit misguided since there are so many visible mistakes.

    • I acknowledged the visible mistakes. The stats don’t acknowledge all the good plays.

      When Jack has been on his game he has the ability to be dominant. He has game breaking talent. And my rant against statheads is not limited to this discussion. It’s been an ongoing passion for several years :)

      • I agree Surly,
        I think JJ will wind up being the defensemen people wind up talking about for his play during playoff runs with Columbus or Detroit when he ends up there.
        DD will be talked about for his potential and the fat contract he never played into with the Kings and wherever he plays in about 2 or 3 years from now.
        DD is a coach killer, JJ is a true patriot and I’ll miss him on our team and I believe his ex-teammates will as well.
        Good luck Jack, thanks for being real and approachable.
        Drew you’re a dick!!!

    • It’s a cross of what the eyes see with stats smoothing the highs and lows of (game influenced) emotions shading conclusions.

      As J.T. points out, parse the stats and Johnson is usually just above mean.

      Something needed to be done to get back on track and heal from the Penner setback. Johnson was the medicine.

      Long term?

      –Hope Voyonov continues to perform at a high level.
      –It may be left to a still maturing Doughty and Voyonov to break in Muzzin, Deslauriers and Hickey.

      Next discussions:
      –Why is Carter being placed on Richard’s line?
      –Who will be coaching next season?


  10. I still think JJ will turn out to be a heck of d-man in Columbus. His +/- might still suck especially being a CBJ, but I am looking forward to seeing if they just let Jack be Jack. He might just go over there and tear it up. There is just something about JJ that leads me to believe that he will now be out to show us 1) what he is really capable of and 2) to show us all what we lost. I think he will be motivated as hell to demonstrate what we just traded away. I will miss JJ, but I welcome “Carts” with open arms in hopes that maybe he can help us turn the offense around. I really like JJ and commended him for signing the deal the way he did. But I do know that we had to make a move and we couldn’t just sit back and continue to watch this. It may still not work, but we had to try and unfortunately JJ was the piece we had to move.

    Good luck JJ!! You will be missed!

    Welcome “Carts”!

  11. Im just sickened by the fact Columbus got a #1 pick to boot. We shoulda received the pick. Especially knowing Carter didnt want to play for CBJ. JJ loved being a King. Lombardi has lost control/ is frightened for job. Cant wait to see which defenseman he drafts with his first round pick this year or next…..

    • It’s a sellers market. Did you see what the Devils gave up for Zidlicky today?

    • There are supposed to be some good ones. I’m sure Futa and Mike Yannetti are spending loads of time finding just the right ones, unless there are some hard nosed N>S wingers who like to bang in the corners……. you know the type? Good character guys (lol)

    • If it had to be it should have been the 2013. 2012 should never have been part of the agreement.

  12. I still think for the money and the contract JJ was signed into, he should’ve been given a chance at forward before we pulled the plug on this experiment.
    I gave Marty McSorley as an example, JJ could’ve played both positions in one game and never complained.
    DD would get his feelings hurt, because with him it’s about the money and the stats, not winning!
    He isn’t a real leader and in my eyes, he never will be!
    He’s already taking cross-checking penalties instead of taking the body and now officials are looking for it, he wants the spotlight on him and with the money he’s signed for he’ll hire his own guy if he has to!
    I’m glad Mitchell signed on for two more years but, where else are we going to get offense from the defense?
    Hopefully, Martinez and Voinov will step up to the challenge, otherwise we’re truly fucked for several years with Doughty eating up two contracts on d!

  13. My theory: the more that these certain hardcore hockey fans/bloggers, who want to think themselves experts on the game, suck at actually identifying talent with his eye, the more he relies on these flawed advanced statistics to base his opinions about players on. For instance, I find some of these advanced statistics interesting as a supporting tool in some cases, but the best tool is and has always been my eye.

    That’s why I’ve never been obsessed with JJ’s bad +/- numbers. Not that he’s a defensive stalwart, but he’s not a bad defenseman like the +/- numbers indicate. The problem with these advanced stats is that they have no way of adjusting for quirks, or differences from team to team. The Kings are such a weird team in how bad their offense is, how they never score 5on5, so comparing their advanced stats to players on other teams gets problematic, and the results become flawed. You can compare him just to his own teammates, or try to adjust for the fact that the Kings dont score, but clearly there is something happening with JJ’s advanced stats, and there have been other examples, too, that is inaccurate. He’s not one of the 10 worst defensemen in the league. How could he be? He’s big, strong, he skates extremely well, he makes a great first pass… none of it adds up. Is his hockey sense and decision making that historically bad that it would negate his talents and make him perform this terribly? I haven’t seen that.

    Some people just have no eye for the game, but they become obsessed with the game, anyway, and want to feel smart about it when really they have no talent for deciphering the game, so they turn to these advanced stats, most of which stem from corsi. And what does corsi depend on? “That shot quality evens out over time.” Since it’s near impossible to chart shot quality, and since it’s subjective, they can only chart shot quantity. That would mean the stat is inherently flawed from the get go, except they claim shot quality evens out over time.

    Oh yeah? So you really think the average quality of an LA Kings shot is the same as a Flyers shot? A superior offense tends to not only get more shots, but better shots. That’s something the people behind corsi, and those who use it entirely for their analysis, somehow missed. And so we get more and more articles now written by smarty pants based totally on faulty data.

  14. This is a class article that takes an honorable position. I loved watching Jack grow as a player. I will miss him and wish him the best.

    You can blame Lombardi but this trade was reactionary. The Kings’ offensive players have been pathetic. Secondary scoring has been nonexistent. Dean was left with a vacuum to fill. So really most of the blame lies with Jack’s now ex-teammates.

    I share your anger in that I considered Jack a “core” player. Sad really. I hope he does well.

    • “Secondary scoring has been nonexistent. Dean was left with a vacuum to fill. So really most of the blame lies with Jack’s now ex-teammates.”

      Actually I see it differently. Just to be clear, I have no issue whatsoever with a pov that says we’re going to build from the back end out. ……. but to the almost total exclusion of any skilled forwards? Yes, I know all about Tyler Toffoli, and maybe he’ll be great (and maybe not) but I would expect him to make the nhl roster in what would be DL’s eighth year. Thats a wee bit late to be adding some offensive clout.

      So the vacuum, while not entirely created by Lombardi, (there was some bad luck and injuries) is still something that he’s largely responsible for no matter which way you slice the cake.

  15. Seeing the title of the article first had me concerned, as I misunderstood and thought you were saying that you were already convinced JJ was bad and liked Carter, so I’m glad I read the article and now realize that it wasn’t quite what I thought it was… that being said.. Despite the fact that I know we need a player like Carter, and am glad to have him as a great offensive addition to the team, I am definitely sad to see JJ go! I think that JJ has a great deal of potential, and that he will probably do great things in Columbus because it’s an entirely different system, and environment. Seems like all of the players we trade or let go are thriving on their new teams, and I don’t think Jack will be the exception. I wish him all the best, and hope that Carter is the puzzle piece DL is hoping for. I personally would have rather seen another player go before JJ, but my guess is that Columbus probably didn’t want such player and needed a sweeter pot. I’m really hoping that our defense doesn’t suffer any with this trade, because honestly I don’t think that some of these new guys are as great as others are making them out to be. But that’s just my opinion, and we all know, those are like bumholes.. everyone’s got one.

  16. By the way, Pierre Lebrun & Bob Mckenzie are reporting that if Dean Lombardi could get Luke Schenn and Matt Fratin for Dustin Brown, he “would probably do it.”

    What the fuck? I guess we better hope Brian Burke doesn’t want to fleece us, since Lombardi doesn’t seem to be looking out to prevent that from happening.

    Luke Schenn? The overrated, worthless, only-perceived-as-worth-anything-because-he’s-playing-in-Toronto-and-their-fans-have-overhyped-him Luke Schenn?

    What the fuck?

    Unless this is part of some post Brown trade three-way trade where Lombardi takes Schenn, Fratin, one of his prospects, Bernier, whatever else, and swings it for a top forward like Nash, I don’t get it. Not at fucking all. I mean wtf is this? The team needs to add another forward, and they allegedly anyway would trade Brown away for stay at home defenseman Luke Schenn?

  17. I am ok with the trade. Its an albatross in the future and we are gonna look like Calgary in 5 years so we better win the cup.

    Craig Button is an idiot.

    I like that Carter chose 77. Says to me he means fucking business. That is a serious number. You dont pull it down off the shelf lightly. You’ve gotta back that number up with some serious output or you’re gonna look like a clown. Let’s see what you got Jeff.

  18. “Remember how well Jack played when he was the top dog in LA while Doughty was out? ” Yes, I do. He wasn’t ok. He was imo outstanding and dominant.
    But why bother with evidence that doesn’t mean anything to many people?

    • So you would have traded Doughty so Jack could be great in LA?

      Who was dean supposed trade for offensive help on the wings? No one would take Voynov for a proven top 3 NHL winger. Dean built the defense so that he could use an asset to get a top line winger. Everyone knows that no UFA will sign in LA without a huge overpayment. Parise would need 9+ million AAV to leave the east coast for LA. Does anyone want Parise that badly?

      • I’m not convinced that Martinez, Jones/Deslaurier/Forbort and a 1st wouldn’t have gotten the job done. I know, quality > quantity, but a solid defenseman , a great goalie prospect and a pick is nothing to sneeze at.

        Also, since Bernier can’t buy a fucking
        Start, I’m open to trading him too. Never thought I’d agree with JT Dutch about this but it’s getting ridiculous.

      • Sydor, I don’t know if you’re talking to me, but just in case you are, perhaps you could just read the words that I write without editorializing as to what I’m inferring because I don’t see anywhere in my comments that I said something about Drew Doughty.

  19. Excellent article, Surly!

    In reading the comments (from all over the web) regarding this trade and how Carter will bring the needed offense the Kings so desperately need…..I say “nay nay”.

    I seem to recall all of the same people saying the same thing when we brought in players like Penner, Gagne and Richards.

    Sure, I went in with a positive attitude and was excited by those trades when they happened. However, lo & behold, my expectations were diminished within weeks of acquiring the new players when I saw the same system commiting the same crimes. This team could recruit God and still not score goals with him!

    That is why, now, I do not get excited when we get a new player. I am not going to put myself back into that excited state of mind so the Kings can let me down…again. I cannot take the psycological and emotional effects of doing so (a.e. kicking my dog, flipping off random people on the street and drinking on work nights.) I’m like a kid with Tourette Syndrome with the highs and lows this team puts me through, having “tics” after every fucking game.

    • Yes. To be a King fan is to never reach the promised land. There are just better teams elsewhere. There are many great players elsewhere. LA can’t win due to some “choke” virus when the big games come.
      I have dumped a lot of money for tickets in my time. I am an older timer from a kid going to the Forum and seeing the Kings start here. I have learned to accept that there is a universal truth in hockey that involves desire and confidence to achieve.
      Many pros don’t ever have those. We have missed those in Staples. There was more of that in the Forum days, just enough to really see some outrageous great games. Now this team really has to show if they have enough desire and confidence. They could make a seed if they get tough and pound away on puck control and pressure for mistakes. The great teams pressure and create and score. This crew now can do it if they want bad enough.

      • I go back to those days as well. In so many ways its just not the same game yet Club tradition seem to transcend time. I’m surprised a Kings mythology, a hockey version of the curse of the goat if you will, hasn’t sprung up around the Kings.

        The list is long…and healthy. Recent adds include Kopitar’s leg, Williams’ shoulder, Stoll (banished from a playoff game), Penner, Gagne, Sutter…ugh!

        The Kings long standing inability to purge choking, bad fortune and poor decision has long reminded me of cruse ship that can not purge a virus.

    • Dude….. don’t do it to yourself. It ain’t worth it.

      I do find the first three paragraphs substantial though, because that’s it. They have a hard and fast philosophy that doesn’t want to stretch or become a bit more malleable as I see it. Dean told everyone he’s a ‘d’ type of GM (in so many words) – and while I never said they should go to run and gun hockey, there are after all ‘degrees’ in everything.


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