Jim Johannson, the ex-Team USA player who joined USA Hockey in 2000 and became General Manager for all American men’s teams in international competition in 2007, died suddenly last night in Colorado Springs, Colorado, just a few weeks shy of the 2018 Olympics.
Johannson, a standout player with the University of Wisconsin, joined Team USA at the 1983 World Juniors, joining the junior team again the following season. Johannson suited up for the senior American team at the 1988 and 1992 Olympics, as well as the 1992 World Championships. Johannson, a late round pick of the Hartford Whalers in 1982, spent his post-college career in the International Hockey League, spending seven seasons in Salt Lake City, Indianapolis and Milwaukee before retiring as a player.
After a short tenure as a General Manager in the minor leagues, Johannson joined USA Hockey in 2000 as an international manager, eventually becoming Assistant Director of Hockey Operations in 2007, giving Johannson oversight on all U.S. international teams for men’s and junior competition. While Johannson’s senior teams did not capture any Gold during his tenure, he oversaw the drastic overhaul of the U.S. junior program, which pulled in Gold in 2004, 2010, 2013 and 2017, the first Gold medals ever for the U.S. junior team. Overall, Johannson was amongst the executives at 16 World Championships, 14 World Juniors, the 2014 Olympics and 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
With the Olympics set to begin in less than three weeks, this comes as a massive blow to the USA Hockey program, as Johannson was set to manage the Olympic team for just the second time in his tenure. Our condolences go out to the Johannson family, as well as the extended USA Hockey community, on the sudden and shocking loss of this visionary executive.