Saturday, September 11, 2010

Focus on a Thrasher: Johnny Oduya

In early 2010, Thrashers fans were wondering what would become of their superstar, Ilya Kovalchuk. Though he was swearing he wanted to be a Thrasher for life, fans had their doubts. With no contract signed, Kovy was traded to the Devils. Most fans were happy we didn't over pay for Kovy and they were pleased at what we got in return. I can promise you nobody was as excited as I was.

As soon as I heard Johnny Oduya was coming to Atlanta, I was running around the house screaming! He has one of the coolest names in hockey! I was already a big fan of his when he was with the Devils. I called him "Swedish Hot Chocolate." Ilya WHO?? This is my first picture with Johnny. It's his first night in Atlanta which was also the Valentines Day Puck Surprise. I was lucky enough to be helping the photographer out. When I saw Johnny I totally dorked out. I'm sure he was thinking I was a nut.

Do you think I went immediately and got an Oduya jersey...Oh did I!!!

David Johnny Oduya was born on October 1, 1981, in Stockholm, Sweden. Johnny's Dad, George was a journalist from Kenya who went to Sweden to study. There he met Johnny's mom, Birgitta and fell in love and had two sons.

Though Johnny's older brother Fredrik was drafted in 1993 by the San Jose Sharks, he never played in the NHL making Johnny the first player in the NHL of Kenyan descent. Johnny was a typical little brother, tagging along with Fredrik to the rink. He then followed him into a hockey career.

Johnny had an unusual first job, he was the landscaper at a cemetery. He didn't drive the hearse or dig the graves, but was in charge of mowing the grass , planting trees and other gardening tasks.

Johnny started his hockey career in 1999 with the Hammarby IF of the J20 SuperElit, a junior hockey program in Sweden.

In 2000, Johnny came to North American to play junior hockey in the QMJHL's Moncton Wildcats and the Victoriaville Tigres.

In the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Johnny was selected in the 7th round (221st overall) by the San Jose Sharks. Instead of going to the NHL, Johnny returned to Sweden, playing for again for the Hammarby IF, this time in the HockeyAllsvenskan league, the second highest level of ice hockey in Sweden.

After spending 2 season with Hammarby, in 2003 Johnny moved up to the Swedish Elite League, playing with Djurgården IF. Johhny spent 2 seasons there, then played with Frolunda for the 2004-05 season.

In 2006, Johnny signed with the New Jersey Devils as a free agent. Johnny made his NHL debut on October 6, 2006 in Carolina. He was one of seven Devils to make their NHL debut that season thanks to an abundance of injuries on the team. Originally Johnny was thought to be a minor league player who would get some time in the NHL due to injuries. When given the chance Johnny showed them what he could do and did well. He was getting major minutes each game. In fact, he played in every Devils game that season except some he missed for an injury of his own. Johnny scored his first NHL goal on December 13...against Atlanta!

During the 2007-08 season, Johnny became a mainstay on the Devils. In his second season with the Devils, Johnny led the team with a career best +27. In only his second season, Johnny appeared in his 100th NHL game, pretty good for someone expected to be a minor league player.

The 2008-09 season was Johnny's third season and a s breakout year offensively as he led Devils' defensemen with seven goals and finished second with 22 assists and 29 points — all career-highs.

After having such a great previous season, Johnny struggled with the Devils in the 2009-10 season before coming to Atlanta. Playing in 40 games, he only scored 4 points . After arriving in Atlanta, Johnny played in 27 games, scoring 9 points.

In 2010 Johnny was named to the Swedish Olympic team. Johnny was excited to play with some of the NHL super stars on the team:

“It’s my first time being on the same team with those guys like Lidstrom, Forsberg and (Daniel) Alfredsson. That’s obviously pretty cool. I’ll get to know those guys a little bit more.”

Some fun stuff about Johnny....he usually goes home to Sweden during the summer. He also likes to go to Spain.
"I go back there in the summers and it's colder than New Jersey, but summertime is great in Stockholm. It's always a special time to go home."
He thinks if a movie was made about him, Denzel Washington would be a good one to play him, but he can't see anyone every making a movie about him.

On his iPod?
"Nowadays everybody has a lot of songs on their iPod, but I don't have that many songs. I try to mix it up, though. The most that I have on there is '90's hip hop, a little bit of '80's stuff and some dance music from Europe."
And as far as his favorite websites:
"My homepage is a Swedish news Web site because that is my Swedish update. I also like YouTube because you can find anything on there."

I'm very excited Johnny came to Atlanta and I can't wait to see him play this season!


ATLANTA HOCKEY PICTURES September 12, 2010 at 7:22 AM  

"Swedish Hot Chocolate" lol. you called me to tell me about meeting him at the puck surprise, I thought a little bit of pee came out when you told me that.

Sunshine36616 September 12, 2010 at 8:04 AM  

Kerry, you are 100% right, I just hope Johnny didn't notice :p And thank you SO much for giving me his signed puck!

ATLANTA HOCKEY PICTURES September 13, 2010 at 12:01 AM  

no problem, glad you liked it!


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