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The NHL named late longtime USA Hockey executive Jim Johannson a recipient of the Lester Patrick Trophy.

By Michael Blinn
September 05, 2018

The late Jim Johannson will be honored with the Lester B. Pearson Award for outstanding service to hockey in the United States, the NHL announced on Wednesday.

The former USA Hockey executive died on Janurary 21 at the age of 53 while building the American entries for the PyeongChang Olympics. His wife Abby will be presented with the award during the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame induction celebration on December 12. 

Johansson won an NCAA title during a four-year career with Wisconsin and went on to play pro hockey from 1987-94 after being drafted by the Hartford Whalers in 1982. A two-time Olympian, Johannson also represented the U.S. during the 1992 IIHF Men's World Championship.

His career turned to front office work, spending five seasons as GM of the USHL's Twin Cities Vulcans before joining USA Hockey in 2000. 

During his time with the U.S.'s governing ice hockey body, American teams captured 64 medals in major international competitions, 39 of them gold. 

"Jim Johannson's entire playing career and professional life were dedicated to the game of hockey," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said. "From his playing days at the University of Wisconsin and for U.S. National and Olympic teams, through his two-decade career at USA Hockey, Jim worked tirelessly to grow our game at all levels in the United States." 

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Johannson's impact on U.S.-born players was on display in late August as teams of American players gathered for a charity game in his honor. Among those taking part were Dylan Larkin, Auston Matthews, Zach Parise and Patrick Kane, with several players taking time to share their memories.

"He’s the guy that calls and says, 'Hey Zach, you made the Olympic team,'" Parise said. "He was kind of the glue for everything." 

"He was very good to me and my family," said Matthews. "He gave me an opportunity to play for USA Hockey."

Fellow American hockey legends Red Berenson, Natalie Darwitz, Hago Harrington, David Poile and Paul Stewart will be inducted into the U.S. HHOF on the same night Johannson's legacy is honored in December.

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