Former Nashville captain Greg Johnson, who took the first faceoff in Predators history, died Tuesday in Detroit. He was 48.
No cause of death was immediately reported.
Drafted in the second round by the Philadelphia Flyers in 1989, Johnson scored 369 points (145 goals, 224 assists) in 785 NHL regular-season games from 1993-2006. He was a member of Team Canada that won silver at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.
The native of Thunder Bay, Ont., joined Nashville in the 1998 expansion draft following stints with the Detroit Red Wings, Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks.
He served as the Predators captain from 2002 to 2006 and still holds the franchise records for short-handed goals (11) and short-handed points (17).
“The entire Nashville Predators organization is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Greg Johnson. Greg was an original Predator, coming to us in the expansion draft and serving as the team’s second-ever team captain, and first Predators captain to lead the team to the Stanley Cup playoffs,” the team stated in a news release.
“During his time in Nashville, he was a consummate professional and terrific teammate who was an integral part of our community and in developing the Predators culture that we experience today. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Kristin and his daughters Carson and Piper. We offer our full support to them at this very difficult time.”
After seven seasons in Nashville, he signed with Detroit in 2006 but retired before the 2006-07 season when a pre-season physical revealed a hereditary heart abnormality.
Johnson reflected on his career during a visit to Nashville two years ago.
“I was an average player — I was never anything special — but the best years of my life were here with the Predators,” he told the Nashville Post. “To have a young family [at the time], amazing city, these were without a doubt the best years of my life.
“… In my heart, I’m a Predator and a big Predators fan.”
Johnson’s younger brother, Ryan, played 13 seasons in the NHL (1997-2011) with five teams.