By Christine Troyke
Gwinnett Daily Post
DULUTH, Ga. – Kris Goodjohn and his coach Jeff Pyle used the same word in discussing the forward’s second season as a Gwinnett Gladiator.
“He’s just consistent,” Pyle said.
“I think I could have been a little more consistent at different points,” Goodjohn said. “But I think things have gone pretty well.”
The Gladiators’ leading scorer isn’t being falsely modest. He means it sincerely and it’s just part of the reason Pyle calls him the ultimate professional.
Goodjohn, who ranks sixth among the league’s top scorers with 58 points in 51 games, was one of the first players Pyle re-signed from last season.
As a rookie out of Union College in New York, Goodjohn scored 19 goals and had 37 assists for Gwinnett in the 2003-04 regular season. Then came the playoffs and Goodjohn was a monster for the Gladiators. In 13 games, he scored 12 points, none bigger than a Game 5 overtime goal in Mississippi that eliminated the Sea Wolves in the division semifinals.
“He’s a character guy,” Pyle said. “You never ever worry about him.
“Power play, penalty kill, you can tell him, this is what I want you to do and he’ll do it just like that. You draw it up on the board and he’ll do it exactly where you put those lines.”
Combined with an unceasing dedication to fitness (he even lists it as one of his hobbies), Goodjohn was a sure bet for Pyle when it came time to signing players in the offseason.
Goodjohn spent last summer as he had the two before it, working out with a trainer in his home town of Calgary. Sprints, plyometrics, weight lifting were part of a daily regime that also included a several skating sessions each week. In Calgary, Goodjohn is also able to work out with NHLers, including Martin Gelinas.
“From what I’ve heard, he’s one of the better conditioned guys in the NHL and I can definitely believe it,” Goodjohn said. “He’s a horse in the gym. I can’t keep up with him. Neither can anybody else.”
He was working out with NHL players, but as the summer progressed it was starting to look like their labor situation was going to affect Goodjohn.
After such a solid rookie campaign, Goodjohn had every right to expect a good look from American Hockey League clubs.
“I thought about it, but you can’t really do anything about it,” Goodjohn said. “I was lucky to have myself set up to come down here.”
In July, just a couple weeks before his wedding, Goodjohn had re-signed with the Gladiators.
“As far as being in this league, I know there’s nowhere else that’d be close to as good as being here,” he said. “I mean, even in the American League, I sure I’m happier here than I’d be in most places up there.”
It’s just one of several good marriages for Goodjohn.
No offense to his teammates, but his wife Caroline and their Irish Terrier Riley make for better roommates.
“It’s been really great having her down here,” Goodjohn said. “It’s made life a lot easier on me I think.”
On the ice he has a consistent partner in linemate Chris Durno. Rarely in the last two years have they been separated.
“Me and Durns play pretty well together,” Goodjohn said. “We both seem to work pretty well in the corners.
“It’s been a lot of fun playing together. We’ve been successful so far.”
Goodjohn certainly holds up his end.
Even earlier this year when the Gladiators were struggling and Pyle made it clear he would have entertained most trade offers, Goodjohn was not on the table.
“Goodie’s never on the table,” Pyle said. “There’s no reason to put him out there. And it’s not even his scoring that makes him so valuable. Just everything else that he does, just the way you know he’s going to be positive.
“I mean, he’s in. You can’t put a value on a player that’s just in.”