The University of Wisconsin and United State hockey in general lost a legend far too soon on Sunday. According to a statement by UW athletic communications, Jim Johannson, a member of the 1983 NCAA champion Badgers and long-time USA Hockey executive passed away early on Sunday morning.
UW released a statement noting Johannson’s passing, stating he died in his sleep at his home in Colorado Springs, Co.
“We lost a true friend in Jim Johannson today,” Wisconsin and U.S. Olympic coach Tony Granato said. “He was so compassionate and as loyal a friend as you could have. He was the ultimate teammate.
“I am deeply saddened and shocked and sorry that he is no longer with us. He was a special human being. Please pray for Jim’s wife and daughter, Abby and Ellie.”
Granato and Johannson crossed paths in college at UW and were teaming up on the 2018 United States Olympic team, which Granato will be coaching at the upcoming games next month.
As a Badger, Johannson was a prolific force up front, scoring 63 goals, 67 assists and 130 points in 148 games played from 1982-86. He was also a part of Wisconsin’s 1983 NCAA championship team.
Johannson also was a member of two USA Hockey Olympic teams (1988 and 1992), in addition to being a 7th round draft choice of the Hartford Whalers in 1982. He went on to play 374 games of professional hockey between 1987-94 in the International Hockey League where he registered 279 points, including 119 goals.
Off the ice, he was involved in the youth hockey community early on following the end of his playing career. He led the Twin Cities Vulcans as their general manager for five years (1995-2000), which included seeing his team win the 2000 USA Hockey Junior A National Championship.
Following his move to the USA Hockey team, Johannson carried a variety of roles that led him to become the assistant executive director and general manager of the 2018 Olympic team.
“We are beyond shocked and profoundly saddened,” said Pat Kelleher, executive director of USA Hockey. “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.”
We join everyone in passing on our condolences to his family.