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Uploaded By: PRESIDENT on September 20th, 2017

Ivan Wilfred "Ching" Johnson - Born December 7, 1898 in Winnipeg, Manitoba – Died June 16, 1979 in Silver Spring, Maryland was a Canadian professional ice Hockey defenceman.

Johnson was an original member of the New York Rangers and was part of two Stanley Cup championship winning teams. He was named to the NHL's post-season all-star team four times and played in the Ace Bailey Benefit Game, the first all-star game in league history.

Johnson was an accomplished football and lacrosse player in his youth. He joined the Canadian Expeditionary Force in 1916 and fought for three years in the trenches of France as part of a mortar outfit. Johnson returned to Winnipeg following the war and worked for an electric light company. He first played competitive Hockey in 1919 when he joined the Winnipeg Monarchs of the Winnipeg Senior Hockey League. He played two seasons with the Monarchs before moving to Eveleth, Minnesota where he joined the Eveleth Rangers team and played three seasons in the United States Amateur Hockey Association (USAHA). He then played three seasons in Minneapolis, starting with the Millers, then the Minneapolis Rockets, concluding in 1925–26 with the Minneapolis Millers. He was named a league all-star on defence in both 1924 and 1926.

First nicknamed "Ivan the Terrible", Johnson later earned the nickname "Ching" when fans of the defencemen would shout "Ching, Ching Chinaman" to support him. Though he was of Irish descent, he was called "Chinaman", then "Chink" and finally "Ching" as he was considered to have an Asian looking face. His physical style of defence made him immensely popular with fans, and he was often seen with a wide grin any time he made or received contact during a game.

It was from Minneapolis that Johnson was recruited by New York Rangers manager Conn Smythe, along with his defensive partner Taffy Abel, to play for the newly formed New York Rangers. Offered the position at the age of 28, Johnson insisted on a three-year contract as he believed it would be the only one he would get. He made his NHL debut in the Rangers opening game on November 16, 1926 in a 1–0 victory over the Montreal Maroons. A rugged and physical defenceman, Johnson appeared in only 27 of the Rangers' 44 games as he suffered a broken collar bone early in the season, but still finished second on the Rangers with 66 penalties in minutes. In 1927–28, his total of 146 penalty minutes led the team and was second in the NHL to Eddie Shore's 165, He added a career high 10 goals, and helped the Rangers win their first Stanley Cup. Additionally, he was voted by the fans as the most valuable player of either New York team.

Johnson was lost to the Rangers early in the 1928–29 season when he suffered a broken ankle during a December game against the Maroons. A couple days after his injury, he had to be rescued when a fire threatened the Montreal hospital he was convalescing at. Johnson missed virtually the entire regular season with the injury, but returned in time for the 1929 playoffs, and was credited with improving the Rangers' play as they reached the final against the Boston Bruins.

Johnson was lost to the Rangers early in the 1928–29 season when he suffered a broken ankle during a December game against the Maroons. A couple days after his injury, he had to be rescued when a fire threatened the Montreal hospital he was convalescing at. Johnson missed virtually the entire regular season with the injury, but returned in time for the 1929 playoffs, and was credited with improving the Rangers' play as they reached the final against the Boston Bruins.

His contract having expired following the season, Johnson was a hold-out when the Rangers opened their training camp prior to the 1929–30 NHL season as the team was reluctant to meet his demands for increased pay. When the impasse dragged into November, he threatened to quit the game altogether, before finally agreeing to a new three-year deal. He appeared in 30 games for the Rangers that season, but again missed significant time, this time suffering a broken jaw. Again, Johnson returned in time for the playoffs, but was forced to wear a steel mask to protect his face.

Johnson remained healthy in 1930–31, appearing in 44 games and was named to the league's Second All-Star Team on defence. In addition to being named to the First All-Star Team in 1931–32, Johnson finished just one vote behind Howie Morenz for the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player.

In the 1933 playoffs, Johnson and defense partner Earl Seibert aided the Rangers in their Stanley Cup victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Johnson played his hard-hitting game to perfection during the playoffs and scored the key first goal in the Blueshirts' 2-0 win over Detroit in game one of the semifinals. The Rangers sagged somewhat in the second match but held on for a 4-3 win. Johnson's supreme defensive work was considered to be the key factor in the club's not having to play a third and deciding contest. In the finals, the Rangers' speed was too much for the Maple Leafs. When Toronto did venture into New York territory, Johnson and Seibert controlled the play. Johnson would knock the Maple Leafs forwards off the puck, then send it over to his swifter partner to launch the next counterattack.

Johnson was again named to the First All-Star Team in 1932–33.

In 1933–34, Johnson earned his fourth consecutive post-season all-star nod, on the second team. He also participated in the first all-star game in NHL history as the league held a benefit game to raise money for Toronto's Ace Bailey, whose career was ended by a violent hit early in the season. Johnson contemplated retirement following that season as he again found himself in a dispute with the Rangers on a new contract, but signed prior to the season's start. His season was again reduced by injury in 1934–35 but he returned in time for the playoffs.

Johnson was a fierce competitor who ignored the pain and didn't let injuries stand in his way, and was considered one of the hardest bodycheckers ever to play the game. More significantly, he perfected the technique of nullifying the opposition by clutching and grabbing them as discreetly as possible - a pragmatic defensive strategy for the wily but slow-footed rearguard.

Prior to the 1936–37 season, the Rangers signed Johnson to serve as the defensive coach while he continued to play. He appeared in 35 games but scored no points. Seeing little playing time, and having an offer to coach a minor league team, Johnson requested that the Rangers give him his outright release following the season. Believing that he had become too slow to play, the team agreed. He subsequently signed with the New York Americans, with whom he played one final NHL season in 1937–38.

Johnson led the Rangers team in penalty minutes 8 out of the 11 seasons. He led the league in PIMs twice in the playoffs (1928 and 1932).

Johnson's NHL career stats read 436 regular season games played with 38 goals, 48 assists for 86 points and 808 penalty minutes; and 61 playoff games played with 5 goals, 2 assists for 7 points and 161 penalty minutes.

At age 40, Johnson returned to the Minneapolis Millers as a player-coach for the 1938–39 season. He quickly became the American Hockey Association's most popular star as large crowds attended games he participated in, and was named an AHA all-star in 1939. He served in the dual role for two years before resigning in 1940. Johnson then coached for a time in California with the Hollywood Wolves, before returning east to coach the Washington Lions of the American Hockey League. He also served as an official in the Eastern Hockey League.

During one of the games in 1944, where he was serving as a linesman in the old Eastern Hockey League, he forgot that he was wearing a striped shirt and nailed an onrushing forward with one of his patented heavy bodychecks from his playing days. When asked what caused him to do it, he calmly replied. "Instinct, I guess. The old habit was too deep within me. I forgot where I was and what I was doing."

Johnson is a honoured member of the Manitoba Hockey Hall of Fame.

Johnson was inducted into the Manitoba Sports Hall of Fame and Museum in 1994.

Johnson was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a player in 1958.

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