NEW YORK -- Distinguished player and coach Mark Johnson, Hockey Hall of Famer Bob Pulford, long-time USA Hockey executive Tony Rossi and college coaching legend Jeff Sauer have been named recipients of the 2011 Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to hockey in the United States.
The recipients will be honored at an evening reception on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at the RiverCentre in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Johnson, a Minneapolis native, is an not only an accomplished athlete, but has distinguished himself as an outstanding coach as well. He played 11 years in the NHL (1979-90), where he amassed 508 points in 669 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota North Stars, Hartford Whalers, St. Louis Blues and New Jersey Devils.
Johnson may be best known as the leading scorer for Team USA at the 1980 Olympic Winter Games, where he scored twice in Team USA's iconic victory against the Soviet Union en route to the gold medal. All total, Johnson represented the United States as a player in 13 international tournaments. He also enjoyed a three-year collegiate playing career at the University of Wisconsin where he was a two-time All-American and was named the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Freshman of the Year in 1977.
Johnson is currently the head coach of the women's hockey team at his alma mater, having led Wisconsin to four NCAA championships (2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011). He also served as the head coach of the 2010 silver-medal winning U.S. Olympic women's ice hockey team and twice was as an assistant coach for the U.S. men's national team at the International Ice Hockey Federation Men's World Championship (2000, 2002). Johnson, the son of legendary college and NHL coach “Badger” Bob Johnson, was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004.
Pulford was one of the most reliable players in the NHL during a 16-year career that spanned three decades. The Ontario native played 1,079 regular-season NHL games, winning four Stanley Cups with the Toronto Maple Leafs (1962-64, 1967) before being traded to the Los Angeles Kings in 1970. He took his first coaching role with the Kings, guiding them to their first playoff appearance in five years in 1974, and won the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year in 1975. That season, the Kings amassed 105 points, still a club record.
Pulford then joined the Chicago Blackhawks, where he spent more than 30 years in various roles. He served as the club's coach on three separate occasions from 1977 to 1987. He was promoted to senior vice president in 1990 and took on the general manager's duties three separate times. Pulford was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991.
Outside of a highly successful business career, Rossi has generously donated significant time, resources and expertise to USA Hockey for parts of five decades at the grassroots and executive leadership levels. After beginning his volunteer career with the National Governing Body in the mid-1970s, Rossi was elected to the USA Hockey Board of Directors in 1983 and served as a director from the Central District until 1988. After that, he was elected to the USA Hockey Executive Committee and transitioned into the role of USA Hockey treasurer in 1995. He currently serves as vice president of the organization and its international council chair.
During his time with USA Hockey, Rossi helped guide the formation and growth of The USA Hockey Foundation, a charitable and educational non-profit corporation that provides long-range financial support for USA Hockey and promotes the growth of the game in the United States. He was elected to the International Ice Hockey Federation council in 2008.
Sauer, a Fort Atkinson, Wisc., native, is one of the most successful and distinguished coaches in the history of college hockey. Following his playing career at Colorado College, where he played for Bob Johnson, Sauer spent more than 30 seasons as an NCAA Division I head coach -- both at Colorado College from 1971-1980 and then at the University of Wisconsin from 1983-2002. Sauer won national championships as coach of the Badgers in 1983 and 1990 and ranks eighth on the all-time wins list of college hockey coaches with more than 650 victories (655-532-57) and a winning percentage of .549.
Sauer also is closely involved with preparing and coaching the USA Deaf Olympic Team, having participated in seven Deaflympics and earning a gold medal in 2007 at the IIHF Winter Deaf Olympics. In April 2009, he also coached Team USA to a bronze medal in the first ever World Deaf Hockey Championships. Sauer earned the John "Snooks" Kelley Founders Award from the American Hockey Coaches Association in 2003, presented to individuals in the coaching profession who have contributed to the overall growth and development of the sport of ice hockey in the United States. He is a member of USA Hockey's International Council and the Disabled Hockey Committee and also currently works for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association as assistant to the commissioner. Sauer was recently named head coach of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team.
The award, one of the most prestigious in hockey, was presented to the National Hockey League by the New York Rangers in 1966. It honors the memory of Lester Patrick, who spent 50 years in hockey as a player, coach and general manager and was a pioneer in the sport's development.