Ivan "Ching" Johnson

Ivan "Ching" Johnson was one of the toughest defensemen of his era. His hard hitting style made him very popular among New York fans. He spent all of his 12 NHL seasons in the Big Apple, playing 11 seasons for the Rangers and one season for the Americans.

Ivan's NHL career started relatively late and he didn't make his NHL debut until he was almost 28 years old after having signed as a free agent with the NY Rangers on September 2, 1926. Recruited by Conn Smythe, he had been playing for his hometown team, the Winnipeg Monarchs in the Manitoba Senior Hockey League and for the Eveleth Rangers and Minneapolis Millers in the United States Amateur Hockey League.

Ivan debuted in the NHL in 1926 and immediately established himself as a physical force on the blueline. He wasn't an offensive threat by any means (38 goals in 436 games) but was one of the leagues most reliable players defensively.

"Ivan the Terrible" led the Rangers team in penalty minutes 8 out of the 11 seasons and picked up 808 PIMs in 436 games. He led the league in PIMs twice in the playoffs (1928 and 1932). Ivan was a four time NHL All-Star. He was a 1st team All-Star in 1932 & 33 and a 2nd team All-Star in 1931 & 34. He got the ultimate recognition when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1958.

Ivan won the Stanley Cup twice with the NY Rangers, in 1928 and 1933. When he retired from the NHL he continued to play in the AHA and the Minneapolis Millers where he had played prior to his NHL career. He was an All-Star in Minneapolis the first season back (1938-39).

Ivan took up officiating after his hockey career was over. During one of the games 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."

Ivan will be remembered as one of the finest defensemen ever. At 5'11" and 210 lbs it's easy to imagine what a devastating effect his pulverizing hits had, and with the combination of his desire to win his popularity was immense. He was a fierce competitor who ignored the pain and didn't let injuries stand in his way.

In later days he settled down in Washington D.C. where he was in the contracting business. Ivan passed away from cancer in 1979. He was 80 years old.


Joe Pavlick,  7:45 PM  

Found an article from 1927 in an old attic I am rennovating. About Ching Johnson coming to Pittsburgh. Found your article through Google search. Thanks for the info.

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