Av defenders Bo Byram and Erik Johnson cut from the same cloth

14 years separate the two Colorado Avalanche defensemen, but Bowen Byram and Erik Johnson share more similarities than not.

CENTENNIAL, Colorado – There’s a guy behind the Colorado avalanche blue line that has been skating with the pros for quite some time.

“You can say a while ago, it was 15 years ago, it wasn’t a few years ago. It was a long time ago,” Erik Johnson said of his debut .

After being traded to the Avs in February 2011, he is Denver’s longest serving professional in all of sports, beating teammate and captain Gabriel Landeskog by four months.

Even though Johnson’s linemate is 14 years younger than him, he and Bowen Byram have been cut from the same vintage cloth.

“He has an old-school soul,” Johnson said. “He’s carefree and he’s so young, but he kind of has that throwback style, how he’s off the ice.”

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Byram was selected fourth overall by the Avalanche in the 2019 NHL Draft. He made his NHL debut on Jan. 21, 2021, and has played just 19 games in the 2021 season.

“I think if he played all year he would be up for rookie of the year, really,” Johnson said. “He’s so talented, skates so well, I take things away from his game that I think I can help my game with and it’s just a treat to play with him, I’ve enjoyed it a lot.”

“I feel like we think about the game the same way, he talks a lot on the ice, so it makes things easier on the defensive side of the ice,” Byram said. “Nothing but good things to say about him and playing with him is a treat as well.”

Their bond extended to their unfortunate shared experience with head injuries. Johnson has missed nearly all of 2021 with concussion symptoms. Byram, who was considering retirement after his third concussion in his brief NHL career, leaned on his mentor.

“He also suffered from longer term injuries so he knew at that time I just needed space and to figure out some things on my own, but he was still there,” said Byram.

Now Byram feels confident on his feet and on the boards again.

“I’ve been hit pretty hard a few times, so I’m really confident in how I feel right now and in my head,” he said.

The nearly 21-year-old wrapped up the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs of his young career, but hopes to help erase a championship drought for this franchise later this summer. The latest title came just four days before he was born.

“I saw a tweet about it the other day and had a little laugh about it,” Byram said. “It would be nice to win a Cup here and I think we’re on a good pace. Obviously we can’t look too far ahead, we have to beat Saint-Louis, and that’s our main objective at the moment. We want to ramp up and get ready for the first game.”

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