Jack Johnson's career has been marked by the odd crater.
Some scouts say he's too eager to lay out the thunderous check, taking himself out of position to do so. And not getting chosen for the 2005 national junior team that competed in North Dakota was a significant disappointment.
Johnson, who was expected to make the team, found out he'd been overlooked by logging on to the USA Hockey Web site at school with a group of teammates looking over his shoulder.
"There was kind of an awkward silence, and I said, 'Looks like I'll be home for Christmas,'" Johnson said.
No one can really say why Johnson was excluded, although age was a factor in a tournament traditionally dominated by 19-year-olds. Still, it was a decision that left USA Hockey open to criticism -- especially in the wake of a sloppy defensive performance and a disappointing fourth-place finish for the defending gold medal winners.
David Quinn, an assistant with the '05 World Junior team, simply said the selection process is not infallible.
"There are flaws," he said. "I think Jack would have fit in well. Jack certainly could have been on the team and helped us."
Such a snub might have resulted in a loss of focus or petulance, yet Johnson never missed a beat. Under-18 head coach Ron Rolston said Johnson continued to be the consummate professional, practicing hard and preparing diligently for games.
"He's a big part of what we're doing here," Rolston said. "He's one of the guys that leads by example. Guys look up to him because of his ability."
-- Scott Burnside