Kukla's Korner

Above the Glass

Dear Columbus,

You don’t know me, but I know someone who is about to become one of you: Ryan Johansen, who makes his NHL debut tonight. It seems like only a short time ago that we first watched Ryan on our ice, and not that long ago that I met him. And now he’s yours, all yours. The hope that saved us can save you, if the Blue Jackets use wisely the gift we have sent them. I only know Ryan from the time he spent here in Portland, and it was all too brief. But it was enough to know what we have lost and you have gained. If you didn’t keep an eye on him while he was in Portland, I would suggest you tune in tonight. Because his frequency is about to get very loud.

In the two seasons he played here, Ryan gave us many things: pretty plays, stunning goals in clutch moments, representation of his country and his team in international tournaments, banners and shiny things. He played on one of the most stunning forward lines ever to play for the Portland Winterhawks. But above all things, he gave us hope when we had none. And he gave us victory where there had been only loss.

Tonight Columbus, it’s your turn to see what I mean. I can’t guarantee that the scoreboard will show big numbers, or that Ryan will score any of them. But I can guarantee that at last, you’ll see that the boy you’ve waited for since he was drafted last year is all grown up and worth the wait. We can only watch from afar while you bring the noise and the signs and your jerseys and your vuvazela thingies. And I hope you do. Because a player’s NHL debut only comes once.  Portland only asks that you welcome him just the same as we did this time two years ago. And that you make his debut all that it can be. I know you will.

For two whole, magical seasons, Portland had the privilege of watching while Ryan’s frequency got louder with every game, every pretty play, and every goal. The only thing louder was a downtown bar on draft day in 2010, where we watched while your team picked him fourth overall. We regard our players as our own here, and I hope that you will show Ryan the same love, respect and care that we have, tonight and always. It’s ok, though, if you point out to him that he uses too many cliches in interviews, because he does. Among my favorites are gotta keep it simple, get more pucks on net and my personal favorite, “surreal.”

So do take the greatest of care with our prize Columbus. We had the privilege of being Ryan’s temporary home, but you have the privilege of being the home of his future. Use it wisely and appreciate every second of it. And if you see him around the rink, tell him Samantha said it’s ok to use surreal in interviews, just this once.

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Zaze's avatar

Very excited to see what this guy can do at the NHL level

Posted by Zaze on 10/07/11 at 01:49 PM ET


A lot of CBJ fans are looking forward to tonight - I promise we’ll give him a hero’s welcome.

Posted by BZArcher on 10/07/11 at 01:56 PM ET


Just gotta ask…who were his linemates last year in Portland?

Posted by wolverine from hockeyheaven on 10/07/11 at 04:36 PM ET


Brad Ross and Nino Niederreiter. Together, they were a thing of truly staggering beauty.

Posted by Samantha from Portland, Oregon on 10/07/11 at 04:39 PM ET


Remember Niederreiter early with the Islanders last year.  He could have stayed, but why burn a year of his contract when your organization is going nowhere.

Posted by wolverine from hockeyheaven on 10/07/11 at 05:08 PM ET


And that may very well turn out to be Ryan’s fate this year.  If it is, I know that Portland would welcome him back with open arms. But for tonight, we’ll get out our own jerseys and noisemakers and whatever else to celebrate his debut. Because no matter where he lands or when, there is only one Ryan Johansen and we will always be behind him.

Posted by Samantha from Portland, Oregon on 10/07/11 at 06:03 PM ET


Great article Samantha.  Good luck Ryan!  We’ll be cheering for you.

Posted by OregonWmn on 10/07/11 at 06:06 PM ET

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About Above the Glass

Welcome to Above the Glass, a definitive anti-expert’s guide to hockey. I started blogging in 2009 as part of an effort to learn all 87 rules in the NHL Rulebook in 107 days before the 2010 Olympics, 30 years after I discovered the sport. You can peruse the archival results here. Growing up in Arizona, I didn’t even know hockey existed until February 22, 1980, when the USA played Russia in the Olympics. And just like that, the game of the century changed my life. I still don’t quite understand the icing rule or which faceoff circle goes with what offense, but I do know that every aspect of hockey has something to teach us about life. That’s what you’ll find here, along with my unadulterated passion for the game.

I live in Portland, Oregon, home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. I invite anyone who wants to know more about hockey in the Rose City to visit here, where I blog exclusively about the Winterhawks. I’ll post an occasional musing about the Hawks, the WHL and junior hockey here as well.

Follow me on Twitter: @AbovetheGlass

Email: samantha@kuklaskorner.com