Johnny Gaudreau has been considered a superstar forward since the day he broke into the NHL. It seems hard to believe that he is already 26 years old and has 464 career regular-season games under his belt.
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He is beloved by Calgary Flames fans and rightfully so, as he has posted an incredible 151 goals and 294 assists in 464 games, and won’t be slowing down anytime soon. With that said, here are seven interesting facts about the Flames forward.
1. One of the Smallest Players in the NHL
At just 5-foot-6, 165 pounds, Gaudreau is one of the shortest players in the NHL. The average player is much taller and heavier, which might make it tough for someone of his stature to survive. It clearly hasn’t affected him, and he has made a career of embarrassing his opposition on the highlight reels.
2. Johnny Manziel Inspired Nickname
In college and into his NHL career, fans referred to Gaudreau as “Johnny Hockey”. As the story goes, the nickname was created as a fun spinoff of former NFL quarterback Johnny Manziel’s nickname. Manziel was a high-profile college quarterback at the time and won the Heisman Trophy in 2012. At that point, he became a household name, and the media dubbed him “Johnny Football”.
Soon after, fans at Boston College, where Gaudreau played, dubbed him “Johnny Hockey”, and the name stuck. In fact, he had the nickname trademarked.
3. Won the Hobey Baker Award
In 2014, Gaudreau became well-known in hockey after he won the Hobey Baker Award, an annual award given out to the top hockey player in the NCAA that season. Gaudreau was fantastic that season for Boston College, putting up 36 goals and 44 assists in 40 games.
Gaudreau also had a shot to win the award in 2013, when he was named a finalist. He didn’t capture it that year, but his win in 2014 added him to an impressive list.
4. Played With His Little Brother Matthew at Boston College
After his second season at Boston College, many expected Gaudreau to sign with the Flames and become a professional player the following season. However, he decided to return Boston for a third year, partly to play with his brother Matthew who was joining the team that season.
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It was the right decision for Gaudreau, who won the Hobey Baker Award. His time spent playing with his brother was brief, however, as Matthew appeared in just eight games. Matthew now plays for the Reading Royals in the ECHL, and although he is not as gifted as his brother, he is a very skilled player, who has had a respectable season with 40 points in 38 games.
5. Not Drafted Until the Fourth Round
It may come as a surprise to some that Gaudreau was passed over by every NHL team through the first three rounds of the 2011 Entry Draft. The Flames took a chance on him with the 104th overall pick in the fourth round, and haven’t regretted it.
At the time of the draft, Gaudreau had just wrapped up his first and only season of junior hockey, playing for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL. He played well with 72 points in 60 games, but scouts were worried about his size, considering him too small to play in the NHL. Gaudreau has proven them wrong, as his 445 NHL points rank third in his draft year.
6. Johnny Ham-And-Cheese
Although Boston College fans called him “Johnny Hockey”, his teammates at the time referred to him as “Johnny Ham-and-Cheese”. This reportedly is because Gaudreau was considered a picky eater after he chose a plain ham-and-cheese sandwich over fancier food options.
The nickname blew up after an episode of the Spittin’ Chiclets podcast when former Boston College teammate Kevin Hayes mentioned the nickname and the stories behind it.
7. First Goal on First Shot
Gaudreau made his professional debut after his 2013-14 season ended with Boston College. It couldn’t have gone much better, as he scored in his first NHL game, the only one he played that season. What’s more special is that it came off his first NHL shot.
Other players have done this before, but it is rare. Gaudreau has since proven that it wasn’t a fluke. He’s scored many goals for the Flames since, and will likely continue to score many more in the future.
Former Jr. A player turned writer. Cover both the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers, and am part of both the Flames Faceoff and Oilers Overtime podcasts.