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Growing up in Thunder Bay as the oldest child in a hockey family, this future NHL'er got his first taste of national competition at the 1988 Air Canada Cup, winning a bronze medal with the Thunder Bay Bearcats AAA Midget team. When he advanced to the Thunder Bay Flyers Junior team, his 79 points in 47 games earned him USHL Rookie of the Year and Best Forward honours. The leading scorer in the Centennial Cup championships, he led the Flyers to the 1988-89 Canadian Junior 'A' Championship title and was named the All-Star Centre and Canadian Junior 'A' Player of the Year.

Going 33rd overall in the second round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft as Philadelphia's first choice, he made his way to the University of North Dakota. During his four years with the Fighting Sioux, he led the WCHA in assists for two seasons, claimed 3 WCHA First Team All-Star selections, and earned a place on the NCAA West First All-American Team in 1991 and 1993 and the Second Team in 1992. A 3-time Hobey Baker Award finalist, he was named the 1993 University of North Dakota's Male Athlete of the Year.

His goal scoring abilities at the 1991 World Junior Championships in Saskatoon contributed to Canada’s gold medal performance, and saw him selected to represent Canada at the 1993 World Championships. A member of the 1994 Canadian Olympic team, his three assists and solid play making helped Canada return from Lillehammer as Olympic silver medallists.

Traded by Philadelphia to Detroit in 1993, he made his professional debut with the Red Wings, netting a goal in his first NHL game. Putting in a strong rookie season, he helped Detroit finish first in the Central Division. Enjoying two more seasons with the club, he made stops in Pittsburgh and Chicago before being claimed by the Nashville Predators in the 1998 NHL Expansion Draft.

A strong centre ice performer, he remained with the club for 8 seasons and was regarded as one of the foundation pieces of the organization. Named team Captain in 2002, he was instrumental in helping the club clinch its first ever playoff berth in 2003-04. Signed as a free agent by Detroit in the summer of 2006, he chose to retire from the professional ranks, having enjoyed a 12-season NHL career which included a regular season record of 785 game played with 125 goals and 224 assists.

Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 25th, 2010

Greg Johnson

Thunder Bay
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