Leksand, Sweden — United States defenceman Jack Johnson is not leaving the University of Michigan to join the Los Angeles Kings.
There was a buzz at the 2007 world junior championship yesterday that Johnson, the third overall selection of the 2005 National Hockey League entry draft, had already packed his bags and was primed to make his debut with the Kings next week.
But Johnson's father, Jack Johnson Sr., said Thursday night that the rumour was fictitious.
"He committed to [Michigan coach] Red Berenson for the entire season," Johnson Sr. said. "He's going back to school."
Johnson and the U.S. team will play for the bronze medal on Friday against the host country, Sweden. He raised the ire of Canadian fans at the 2006 world junior championship in Vancouver when he viciously elbowed Canadian forward Steven Downie in Canada's 3-2 victory in the round-robin.
But Johnson, a sophomore at Michigan, came through big-time for the U.S. in the 2-1 shootout loss in the semi-final on Wednesday when, twice facing elimination in the tie-breaker, the big defenceman beat Canadian goaltender Carey Price both times.
In fact, when U.S. coach Ron Rolston was selecting his three shooters for the shootout, he said, "OK, we'll have Pat Kane, Peter Mueller, and . . ."
Johnson interrupted and said, "Me," startling his teammates.