What a special night Wednesday was for Erik Johnson.
It was his first game back in Denver, playing against the Colorado Avalanche, since he signed with the Buffalo Sabres as a free agent this summer.
Johnson spent 13 seasons with the Avalanche and was an important factor in the team winning the Stanley Cup in 2022.
Even beforehand, Johnson got emotional, tearing up just talking about how special it was returning to his former home.
And things got even more emotional during the game. But to kick things off, Johnson had a special meeting with Gabriel Landeskog and his daughter, Linnea, before the game.
During warmups, Landeskog’s two kids held up a sign for ‘Uncle EJ’ that read, “Wrong jersey, but we still love you, Uncle EJ.”
Landeskog, who’s been out for some time with a knee injury, and his family all smiled and waved as Johnson skated up to them and gifted the kids a puck.
Landeskog, the captain of the Avalanche, became great friends with Johnson throughout the years as teammates, and Landeskog has highlighted all the great things Johnson did for him when he was new in the NHL.
When Johnson announced he was signing for Buffalo earlier this year, Landeskog penned an emotional farewell message for him.
“I still remember like it was yesterday, getting a text from you right after the draft welcoming me to the team. You took me under your wing and showed me the ropes. Been through many ups and downs, and for a while, it was a lot of downs. We stuck together, and we kept talking about the day we’d hoist it together. It’s hard to put into words what it’s like when you reach a lifelong dream with one of your best friends. Buffalo is lucky to have you! Love you, man,” Landeskog said.
During the game, Johnson received a standing ovation from Avalanche fans after a touching video tribute was shown on the Jumbotron. The crowd all got together and cheered, ‘EJ! EJ! EJ!’