|Tom Johnson, player, coach, mentor, 1928-2007
The Boston Bruins are saddened to announce that Tom Johnson, who served the team as a player, coach and front office executive for over 30 years until his retirement in 1998, passed away at his home on Wednesday, November 21. He was 79.
"If we all are allowed an ultimate friend, mentor, confidant and teacher, Tom Johnson was all of those to me," said Bruins Senior Advisor to the Owner, Harry Sinden, who worked with Johnson for 30 years. "The Bruins and all of hockey have lost a great person."
One of the premier defensemen of his time, Johnson had an outstanding 15-year career with the powerful Montreal Canadiens teams of the late 1940s and 1950s, winning six Stanley Cups with Montreal. He won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman in 1959, becoming the only blueliner to break teammate Doug Harvey's string of seven Norris Trophies in an eight-year span.
The native of Baldur, Manitoba was claimed by the Bruins from Montreal in the NHL Waiver Draft in June, 1963 and played two seasons with the Bruins until suffering a career-ending leg injury in February, 1965. He was elected into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a player in 1970.
Johnson then moved into the Bruins' front office as an assistant to General Manager Milt Schmidt, a position he held until 1970, when he succeeded Harry Sinden as the Bruins' Head Coach. Johnson led the team to consecutive 50+ win seasons in 1970-71 and 1971-72, culminating in the 1972 Stanley Cup championship, and his win percentage of .738 behind the Boston bench remains the best in team history.
He returned to the front office in 1973 as Assistant General Manager to General Manager Harry Sinden and he remained in that position until May, 1979 when he was named as the club's Vice President. He retired from the organization in 1998.
Johnson leaves his wife, Doris, son Tommy and daughter Julie. Funeral arrangements are pending.