Sad news from USA hockey on Sunday morning as the organization announced that Jim Johannson, the assistant executive director or USA Hockey and the general manager of the 2018 men’s Olympic hockey team, has died at the age of 53.
According to the announcement, Johannson passed away in his sleep early Sunday morning at his home in Colorado Springs.
“We are beyond shocked and profoundly saddened,” Pat Kelleher, executive director of USA Hockey, said in a statement released by the organization.
“As accomplished as Jim was in hockey, he was the absolute best, most humble, kind and caring person you could ever hope to meet. His impact on our sport and more importantly the people and players in our sport have been immeasurable. Our condolences go out to his entire family, but especially to his loving wife Abby and their young daughter Ellie.”
“In building the teams that achieved so much success for USA Hockey, Jim Johannson had a sharp eye for talent, a strong sense of chemistry and a relentless pursuit of excellence,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in a statement. “The NHL family’s respect for Jim’s contributions to hockey, at all levels, is exceeded only by our shock and sorrow over his sudden passing. We send strength, comfort and condolences to Jim’s wife, Abby, his daughter, Ellie, and his many friends in our sport. As we mourn his loss, we will remember the positive outlook Jim brought to his tireless efforts to advance USA Hockey.”
He had been with USA Hockey since 2000. During his time Team USA won 64 medals (34 gold) at various international tournaments.
He helped assemble the 2018 men’s team which will be using non-NHL players for the first time since the 1994 games.
Johannson played hockey at the collegiate level for the University of Wisconsin and was a seventh-round draft pick by the Hartford Whalers in 1982. He never made it to the NHL but had a successful career in the International Hockey League playing for the Salt Lake Golden Eagles, Indianapolis Ice, and Milwaukee Admirals.
Along with being one of the top executives for USA hockey for years, Johannson also represented Team USA on the ice as a player during the 1988 games in Calgary and the 1992 games in Albertville.
He scored two goals for Team USA in Olympic competition.