Eddie Johnston

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Eddie Johnston
1963 Topps Ed Johnston.jpg
Born (1935-11-24) November 24, 1935 (age 79)
Montreal, QC, CAN
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 190 lb (86 kg; 13 st 8 lb)
Position Goaltender
Caught Left
Played for Boston Bruins
Toronto Maple Leafs
St. Louis Blues
Chicago Black Hawks
Playing career 1956–1978

Edward Joseph Johnston (born November 24, 1935) is a retired Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender and former coach and general manager in the National Hockey League. While being the last NHL goaltender to play every minute of every game in a season, his professional career spanned more than 50 continuous years (22 as a player and 31 as management); more than 45 of them were within the NHL. He won two Stanley Cups as a player with the Boston Bruins in 1970 and 1972, and a third in 2009 as senior advisor for hockey operations with the Pittsburgh Penguins, an organization he served in various capacities for 25 years.

Playing career[edit]

Eddie Johnston 1970s alumni bruins.jpg

Johnston grew up in an anglophone neighborhood in Montreal and was often called "E.J.", a nickname that is still often used today. He became interested in ice hockey as a youth and became a goaltender.

He began his hockey career as a teenager in 1953 playing for the hometown Montreal Junior Royals of the Quebec Junior Hockey League. After a six year minor league career, principally in the Western Hockey League, Johnston was called up to the Boston Bruins in 1962, who owned his rights and for whom he would play the bulk of his NHL career. In his second season, he became notable for being the final NHL goaltender to play every minute of every game during the regular season. However, the Bruins were a mediocre team in his first five seasons, finishing out of the playoffs every year and generally in last place.

This changed after expansion in 1967, when after acquiring Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito, the resurgent Bruins became a powerhouse that went on to win Stanley Cups in 1970 and 1972. Capably backing up lead goaltender Gerry Cheevers, Johnston played well enough to be named as a backup to Team Canada for the Summit Series in 1972, although he played only in exhibition matches. The following season, after defections to the new World Hockey Association left Johnston as the number one goaltender for the Bruins once more, he did not play nearly so well, and was traded after the season to the Toronto Maple Leafs as the "future considerations" in Boston's acquisition of Jacques Plante from Toronto. Toronto in its turn dealt Johnston to the St. Louis Blues, for whom he would be a credible backup for three seasons. His final season, 1978, he played poorly in twelve games for St. Louis before being sold to the Chicago Black Hawks, for whom he played in four matches to end his long goaltending career.

Johnston was severely injured by a Bobby Orr slapshot to the side of his head during warm-up in Detroit on Halloween night, 1968. He subsequently was hospitalized for six weeks before returning to action that season.[1]

Johnston played in 591 NHL games, compiling a record of 236 wins, 256 losses and 87 ties, adding 32 shutouts, with a goals against average of 3.24. At the time of his retirement, he was ninth all time in games played by a goaltender, sixteenth all time in goaltending wins and sixth in losses.

Coach/GM roles[edit]

Johnston went into coaching the next year, leading the expansion New Brunswick Hawks – Chicago's new American Hockey League farm team – to a 41–29–10 record for second place in its division.

He was promoted to be head coach of the Black Hawks during the 1979–80 NHL season, compiling a 34–27–19 record. The following year, he became head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, holding that position until 1983 after having been appointed general manager. He held the GM post at Pittsburgh for five years. Johnston oversaw Pittsburgh's 1984 NHL Entry Draft in which the Penguins selected Mario Lemieux first overall, without whom, Johnston said in reference to the Penguins' home, Mellon Arena, "This place would be a parking lot." Lemieux would come to be known as the team's repeated savior, in addition to being one of the greatest hockey players of all-time.

After Johnston left the Penguins for the first time in 1988, he served as the general manager of the Hartford Whalers from 1989 until he was released in 1992. Johnston's tenure is remembered with distinct displeasure in Hartford,[2] where he is viewed as ultimately being responsible for the franchise's eventual relocation to North Carolina, by having dismantled a playoff team through unproductive trades in addition to allowing relations between captain and franchise cornerstone Ron Francis and head coach Rick Ley to deteriorate, to the point where Francis was accused of "playing out the final year of his contract", and finally stripped of his captaincy by Ley in December, 1990.

Johnston subsequently traded Francis – along with his roommate Ulf Samuelsson – to Pittsburgh as part of a six-player deal on March 4, 1991. Although Hartford was initially speculated to have gotten the better end of the bargain as center John Cullen had been among the league leaders in scoring that season and Zarley Zalapski was seen as a young defenseman with great promise, the deal rapidly became one of the most lopsided and notorious in NHL history as the popular Francis and Samuelsson immediately went on to play major roles in Pittsburgh's first two Stanley Cup championships in 1991 and 1992, while neither Cullen nor Zalapski could duplicate their success with Pittsburgh in Hartford.

After being considered for the position for the 1992–93 season but having been unable to come to terms on a contract with Pittsburgh, Johnston was once again hired as head coach of the Penguins for 1993–94 and guided the Pens until the 1996–97 season, when he was asked to step down due to the Penguins' failure to win a third Stanley Cup under his guidance. He spent the next nine years as the assistant general manager to Craig Patrick before being named Senior Adviser for Hockey Operations in July 2006, his 23rd year with the Pittsburgh Penguins organization. It was in that capacity as the Penguins finally won their third Stanley Cup in 2009 that E.J. did the same, winning his first with Pittsburgh, first since 1972, and first as management.

In 2009, he announced that Game 7 of the Finals would be his last and moved into semi-retirement.

Johnston in Pittsburgh for the final regular season game at Mellon Arena, April 2010.

On April 8, 2010, Johnston joined more than 50 former Penguins being honored in a pre-game ceremony before the final regular season game at Mellon Arena in Pittsburgh.

Johnston remains the Penguins' all-time leader in coaching losses (224) and games coached (516).

On January 7, 2014 against the Vancouver Canucks, Dan Bylsma passed him as the Penguins all-time leader in coaching wins with 233.[3]

Awards and achievements[edit]

Coaching record[edit]

Team Year Regular season Post season
G W L T Pts Finish Result
CHI 1979–80 80 34 27 19 87 1st in Smythe Lost in second round
PIT 1980–81 80 30 37 13 73 4th in Norris Lost in first found
PIT 1981–82 80 31 36 13 75 4th in Patrick Lost in first round
PIT 1982–83 80 18 53 9 45 6th in Patrick Missed playoffs
PIT 1993–94 84 44 27 13 101 1st in Northeast Lost in first round
PIT 1994–95 48 29 16 3 61 2nd in Northeast Lost in second round
PIT 1995–96 82 49 29 4 102 1st in Northeast Lost in Conf. Finals
PIT 1996–97 62 31 26 5 (84) 2nd in Northeast (fired)
Total 596 266 251 60


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Bill White
Head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks
Succeeded by
Keith Magnuson
Preceded by
Johnny Wilson
Head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins
Succeeded by
Lou Angotti
Preceded by
Baz Bastien
General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins
Succeeded by
Tony Esposito
Preceded by
Emile Francis
General Manager of the Hartford Whalers
Succeeded by
Brian Burke
Preceded by
Scotty Bowman
Head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins
Succeeded by
Craig Patrick