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Johnny and Doc working together to fulfill NHL Dreams

Tyler Johnson used to look up to Derek Ryan while he played for the Chiefs. Now Johnny is helping Doc reach his goals.
The Spokane natives and former Chiefs stars are working out together in pursuit of their NHL dreams.

Spokane is not a typical offseason destination for professional athletes. But for NHL All-Star Tyler Johnson, he has everything he needs right here - at home.

The 25-year-old is coming off a tremendous season, which resulted in a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

"It's painful being that close and not being able to be the ones to hoist it."

Though, the Spokane native has the Cup on his mind, his workout partner is thinking a bit differently.

"People always say it's really tough to get into the league, but even tougher to stay," Johnson said. "So, that's really true."

It's a statement that resonates with both Johnson and fellow Spokane native Derek Ryan.

"I'm just trying to get ready for my first NHL camp so it's great to have Tyler here showing me the ropes."

Ryan joined Johnson at APX in downtown Spokane this summer.

"He was one of the guys I talked to before I signed with the Chiefs," Johnson said. "He was a guy who kind of paved a path for me."

Ryan, a Shadle Park grad, was one of the first local players to suit-up for the hometown Chiefs. His success on the ice definitely caught the eye of a budding star in the city.

"Derek is one of those guys I've always watched growing up play. He was always the best player in Spokane... Someone that I really looked up to in the way he does things."

Though Ryan's days in the Lilac City were great, his future in the sport was very much unknown.

"Playing Canadian University, the dream kind of dies a little bit, you don't think the NHL is in your future."

While Ryan enrolled at the University of Alberta, Johnson began to blossom with the Chiefs. After four years in Spokane, Johnson signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning as an undrafted free agent.

While the Central Valley star would soon flourish in the NHL, Ryan took his game overseas.

After earning MVP honors in both the Austrain and Swedish Hockey league, his dream that he once thought was dead came back alive with a call from the Carolina Hurricanes.

"I'm just grateful the game has changed to lend itself to be more suitable to my style of play. Smaller, skilled, more goal scoring. I think that's a big part of me getting my chance now, even at 28 years old," Ryan said. "I mean, pretty much every GM in the league is looking for the next Tyler Johnson."

With fall camp starting soon, Ryan is utilizing Johnson for much more than his workout routine.

"The roles are reversing a bit where now I'm kind of, well he's younger than me, but I'm kind of looking up to him for advice," Ryan added,

"It's a different league, even from the AHL or anything like that," Johnson said. "You kind of have to learn. You kind of have to adapt."

So as the two players enter the new season, both have different goals in mind

For Ryan: "I want to be in the NHL. I want to be playing on the world's greatest stage."

And Johnny: "That Stanley Cup."

While the two missed out on being teammates with the Chiefs, they'll be just fine sharing the ice together as opponents.

"It's going to be fun to play against each other," Johnson said.

"That's a dream come true right?" Ryan said. "Two Spokane guys playing in the NHL. I think it would be a great moment in hockey for Spokane as well."