Johnson motivated by quirky injury

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

After watching his career flash before his eyes two summers ago in a golf cart accident, Erik Johnson is making the most of his sophomore mulligan.

It's his third year as a pro, but he spent all of year two on the sidelines after tearing his ACL on a cart path.

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"For the most part, I just wanted to use it as a motivator to make myself better," said the first pick overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, who's one of only two defencemen in the league to lead his team in scoring.

"As tough as it was, I definitely learned a lot from it and definitely appreciate the game a little bit more after sitting out and not being able to play."

There's no good way to suffer a season-ending injury, but a golfing accident on the eve of training camp is one of the worst.

"It was pretty embarrassing, actually," said Johnson.

"I've played hockey my whole life and never had a serious injury until that. Mentally, that was a little bit tough to overcome.

"I think I learned from it, big time."

What happened?

"The brake didn't catch and the cart kept going on a slope, and I had one leg in and one out

" It kind of just stretched me and I heard this pop. I figured 'This can't be too good.'

'FUNNY'

"I kept playing and went to the rink the next day and said my knee felt a little bit funny.

"I got an MRI and I couldn't believe it.

"I thought I might have sprained it or twisted it. Hearing (he was done for the year and needed surgery) was pretty difficult.

"I thought I might not be able to play again, so I was really scared."


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