Tyler Johnson wishes he could have played for USA
Lightning center Tyler Johnson didn't take to Twitter - like the Penguins Phil Kessel famously did - to express his disappointment in Team USA's performance in the World Cup.
But after the Americans wrapped up an 0-for-3 tournament Thursday in a loss to the Czech Republic, Johnson said he wished he could have helped.
"I think everyone can say they're disappointed at the fact that they didn't do as well as they probably could have," Johnson said." I wish I could have been there. I wish I could have played, but that's their decision. That's what's great about our country is we have a lot of good players, good quality players. They went one route, so hopefully next time I'm playing better so I can make it."
Johnson didn't have his best season last year, with 14 goals and 38 points, largely due to a nagging wrist injury that sapped his strength. Team USA, which emphasized grit over skill in building its team, left Johnson off its roster, and didn't choose him when teammate Ryan Callahan (hip surgery) had to pull out in June.
USA lost to Europe, Canada and Czech Republic, drawing sharp criticism from some American players.
"They played some good teams, that Team Europe team is a great team, Team Canada, we all know how good they are," Johnson said. "So that’s a tough tournament, they play two games, everybody knows in a short tournament like that anything can happen. It’s a lot like March Madness in basketball, there are upsets all the time. Being an American born player you always wish they could have done better, could have made it to the finals, but that’s just me being an American and wanted them to succeed."
Many, including Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, were surprised USA didn't pick Johnson, who was on the 2014 World Championship team and has been clutch the past two postseasons.
"You'd think a tournament like (the World Cup) would be the type of stage where he'd excel," Stamkos said.
Retired NHL wing Anson Carter also asked on Twitter, "Where's Phil Kessel and Tyler Johnson?" on USA roster.
"I was actually pretty thrilled that Anson Carter even knew who I was, that was pretty cool," Johnson said. "But everybody has their different opinion and that’s what is great about being an American is we have so many good, quality players that can make a team like that. You could make that team 100 different ways and I think if you had 100 different people picking a team there is not going to be a consensus on every single person. Just like Team Canada, they could probably fill three teams and make a different opinion. Unfortunately it wasn’t my year this year and hopefully the next Olympics or World Cup, whatever it may be, I get to be on it. But that’s for me to play better and make it so they can’t leave me off."