Before every Ducks game, assistant coaches Craig Johnson and Brent Thompson, along with the team’s video coaches, equipment staff, and trainers, gather on the bench for warmups. This pregame routine includes watching the team’s drills, chatting with players on the boards, and keeping an eye on the opponents’ line combinations. However, tonight’s warmup session holds a special significance for Johnson and Thompson as their sons, Ryan and Tage respectively, are visiting Orange County as part of the Buffalo Sabres. This game marks the first time their sons will face off against their dads in their hockey careers. Both coaches express their excitement for this unique experience and anticipate feeling proud during the game.
For Ryan Johnson, returning to Honda Center is not only a long-awaited matchup against his father but also a homecoming to the arena where he fell in love with the game. As a former first-round pick and Ducks fan, he reflects on the anticipation of playing here and expresses gratitude for the opportunity. He mentions the joy of being in his home state, reconnecting with familiar surroundings, and reminiscing about skating at this rink in his youth.
With nearly 50 friends and family members in attendance, Ryan Johnson is excited to play his 28th NHL game surrounded by loved ones. He highlights his past successes, including winning a high school hockey national title alongside his father, who was then coaching at Santa Margarita Catholic High School. Craig Johnson reflects on their time together, cherishing the moments they spent traveling, bonding, and witnessing his son’s love for the game of hockey.
In hindsight, Craig Johnson recalls the advice of savoring each moment with his kids as they grow up quickly. He appreciates the opportunities they had to spend quality time together, sharing their passion for hockey. Watching Ryan’s development as a player has brought him joy and satisfaction.
In conclusion, the upcoming game between the Ducks and the Sabres holds a significant personal connection for assistant coaches Craig Johnson and Brent Thompson as they face their sons on opposing teams. This special moment is marked by excitement, pride, and nostalgia for both coaches and players alike.