Former Wolverine in Bankruptcy

On November 20th, former Michigan hockey player, Jack Johnson, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, despite his multi-million dollar salary playing for the Columbus Blue Jackets in the National Hockey League.  The Columbus Dispatch claims that Johnson reported only $50,000 in assets against an astounding $15 million dollars in debt.  What’s even crazier about this bankruptcy story is that Johnson didn’t even spend the money—his parents did.  He claims that his parents, Jack Sr. and Tina Johnson, are to blame, describing them as “the wrong people who led [him] down the wrong path.”

Johnson’s rise to stardom began here at U-M, where he played from 2005 to 2007.  During his tenure as a Wolverine, Johnson set a school record for most goals by a sophomore defenseman (16), as well as earning a CCHA Offensive Defenseman of the Year award.  He was known as a fan favorite for his physicality and speed on the ice.

Johnson’s nonconventional story began almost six years ago, after he graduated from U-M.  In 2008, after playing for the Blue Jackets just over a year, Johnson parted ways with his agent Pat Brisson, who represents some of the NHL’s greatest stars, including Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane.  With little knowledge of the financial world, Johnson turned to his parents for help.  He entrusted them to manage and control his finances, assuming that they would be responsible with his earnings.  Simply put, they were not.

In 2011—after Johnson received a 7 year, $30.5 million dollar contract—the NHL star signed a power of attorney granting Tina Johnson complete legal control over his assets.  From there, the chaos began.  Mrs. Johnson started taking out a series of high-interest loans—as many as 18—from multiple non-conventional lenders in a process known as “monetizing”.  Each loan ended in default, baffling both lawyers and Johnson himself.  Additionally, Johnson has stated in court that his parents bought their current house—an $800,000 property on Manhattan Beach—as well as multiple cars and plane tickets with his money.  To add insult to injury, Johnson was kept completely in the dark as to how his money was being managed.  When Johnson would question his parents about his finances, they would simply reply “just worry about playing hockey.”

Since each loan was in Johnson’s name, lending agencies have sued the star at least three times prior to today, demanding upwards of $6 million dollars in restitution.  Even more damaging, is the fact that recent court findings have discovered that around $15 million dollars or more have been borrowed by Mrs. Johnson in total.

A court case is scheduled to take place on January 23rd.  Johnson has told reporters that he has cut off all contact with his family, and is shocked that they would abuse his money.  His paychecks from the Blue Jackets are being garnished—so quickly in fact that he almost never gets to see them before the courts take them away.  An NHL executive in an interview explained that he had “never seen a case as ugly as this one.”  Johnson does not plan on pressing charges against his parents.

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About Jake Thorne

Jake Thorne is Editor-in-Chief of the Review, studying Honors Political Science and Economics at the University of Michigan. He has been an active contributor to the Review since 2014. He can be reached at jnthorne@umich.edu