What He Said: Johnny Gaudreau Went on Spittin' Chiclets and Discussed His Signing with the Blue Jackets

By Coby Maeir on July 19, 2022 at 4:45 pm

The Johnny Gaudreau media tour is in full force.

The newly signed forward was a guest on this week's episode of Spittin' ChicletsYou can listen to the episode by clicking the link in the tweet embedded below. The interview with Gaudreau starts at the 36:46 mark. 

Below are some excerpts from the interview. 

How many teams was it down to?

"I had like three, four teams that I knew I wanted to play for. Columbus was obviously high on that list for me but there were a few other teams. The day of, I was only really talking to two of them. I was pretty much signing with a different team. Most of the day I hadn’t heard from Columbus and then they called at four. I told my agent, 'I wanna go here. Try to get this done. This is the spot I want to be, right here.' And he got it done in about an hour and the next thing I knew I was signing with Columbus. It was a stressful day, but exciting."

Not until four did you hear from Columbus? That's surprising...

"To be honest with you, I don’t think I’d ever want to do this again. It was a really stressful day. I thought it was gonna be like 'Cool, free agency, this team is going to want me, that team is gonna want me, I’m gonna get a call from these guys, and that guy,' and it was nothing like that at all. I was like, 'What’s going on here?' I don’t know if it was the flat cap or it was harder on teams, but I was only talking to like two or three teams and I’m super thankful that Columbus called during that late hour in the afternoon because I was trying to get a deal done with the Devils and then Columbus called and I was like, 'Ah, I wanna go here,' and then my agent got it done and it was awesome." 

Did your buddy Eric Robinson play a factor?

"Eric is obviously [a] super close, a really close buddy of mine. I’ve played with a lot of guys on that team. I’ve played with [Sean] Kuraly. I’ve played with [Zach] Werenski in a couple of world championships. I have a lot of familiar faces there and it makes kind of going to a new team a little easier. I really like that part of Columbus, as well, having familiar faces there."

Was it appealing to play in a more 'relaxed' or less hockey-mad market?

"Yeah, it’s going to be different than playing in Canada obviously. Their media and this and that is a lot smaller in Columbus. I heard so many great things about their fans. They’re so into the game and the 5th Line and I’m really looking forward to playing in front of those guys. Obviously, Canada is a different level than a lot of places you play in the States, but I think it’s going to be a pretty fun place to play. I’m looking forward to playing my first game there."

Has Patrik Laine called you yet?

"No, we texted a little bit. He texted me ... I talked to a few of the guys, texted a few of the guys. My phone has been blowing up. I’ve debated chucking it into the ocean but remembered I had an interview with you guys." 

When you knew Columbus was the landing spot, did you know you were going to blow up the hockey world? You're the biggest thing to ever happen to them...

"I didn’t expect people to be so shocked when choosing Columbus. I guess I didn’t expect it at all. Everyone was texting me “What?” and “Columbus question mark.” I did my research and heard so many great things about Columbus and you know the outside part of the city with great neighborhoods, great golf. Flying for road games, I’ll be back in my bed at like 12 instead of 4 a.m. sometimes. There’s just a lot of really good things that I learned about Columbus and I can go to Ohio State games, too, which is awesome." 

You mention doing your research... I think people think of Columbus and it's not a major city, but first of all, it's a great fanbase and it's such a great place. You don't see too many guys leave there once they retire. You're planning on living there post-playing, right?

"Yeah exactly. You named a few but there are like six, seven other guys, and going back there in the summers. I was talking to Cam Atkinson and texted him to say 'I’m out behind your house' and he came out and I got to see him and he said 'I’m so happy. You’re going to love this place. This is such an undercover great city.' I kept hearing everyone say it’s a hidden gem and being there for the whole day and going around the city and the outskirts in town and some golf courses, I just kept getting this vibe that this is a really cool place to play. I’m really looking forward to it and to see where it goes." 

Do you know [Jakub] Voracek?

"I do kind of but just in passing. Jiri Hudler used to play on the Flames... I’ve kind of gotten to know him better because of Huds. But I know him a little bit and I’m excited to play with him – I hear he’s a pretty funny dude."

Eric Robinson, he's a younger player, but he's had some pretty solid seasons, undrafted, kind of came out of nowhere coming out of Princeton. You've known him for a long time?

"Yeah, he’s always been a pretty good player, but he kind of grew a lot throughout college so he had kind of a growth spurt. He works super hard in the summers, he works out extremely hard, he skates two or three times a week. He wants to play in the NHL and that’s why he’s playing in the NHL, you know, he’s kind of grinding it out with hard summers. That’s why I work out with him."

So it comes down to Jersey and Columbus. How does Columbus edge out Jersey at the end of the day?

"For me, I always said I wanted to play closer to home, but it wasn’t too close to where I’m getting bombarded by friends and family and just non-stop, basically an open door policy, come in whenever you want and that’s kind of the way it is on the Shore here, you know, my buddies around, just coming in. If they did that all year, I think that would’ve gotten a little out of hand at times. It’s far enough where me and my wife can do our own little family thing. We’re having our first kid coming up here and it’s close enough where they can visit all of the time. Now it’s like a 6-hour drive and they can come whenever they want and we can kind of do our own little thing at times, too." 

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