Karmanos, 72, has been involved in hockey for 40 years, making an impact in youth hockey, the Ontario Hockey League (OHL), the ECHL and the National Hockey League (NHL). He created the Compuware Youth Hockey Program in the 1970s, a system that has since produced 15 national championships, 34 state championships, 235 Division I scholarship hockey players and 14 NHL first-round draft picks. Alumni of Compuware youth hockey include Eric Lindros, Pat Peake, Pat LaFontaine, Mike Modano, Brian Rolston, David Legwand, Ryan Kesler, Kevin Hatcher, Derian Hatcher and Jacob Trouba.
Karmanos owned OHL franchises for more than 30 years, winning his first OHL championship with Windsor in 1988. In 1989, he founded the first American-based OHL franchise, which later became the Plymouth Whalers. Plymouth won OHL titles in 1995 and 2007 and produced 18 NHL first-round selections and more than 90 players drafted into the NHL. Alumni of Karmanos’ OHL teams include James Neal, Justin Williams, Tyler Seguin, Brian Berard, Gregory Campbell, Stephen Weiss and J.T. Miller. Karmanos’ OHL franchises have also produced a number of managers and coaches at the NHL level, including Pittsburgh Penguins General Manager Jim Rutherford, Winnipeg Jets Head Coach Paul Maurice, San Jose Sharks Head Coach Peter DeBoer and Hurricanes Assistant General Manager Mike Vellucci.
Karmanos acquired an NHL franchise, the Hartford Whalers, on June 28, 1994, and relocated the franchise to Raleigh, NC, in 1997. Since their arrival in North Carolina, the Carolina Hurricanes have captured three division titles (1999, 2002, 2006), two Eastern Conference championships (2002, 2006) and the 2006 Stanley Cup, the first major-league sports championship for the state of North Carolina. The Hurricanes also hosted the NHL Draft in 2004 and the NHL All-Star Game in 2011. Karmanos also owned the ECHL’s Florida Everblades for 15 seasons, capturing the ECHL’s Kelly Cup championship in 2012.
Karmanos has collected a number of major awards during his career as a hockey builder, including the Lester Patrick Award (outstanding service to hockey in the U.S.), the Bill Long Award (outstanding contributions to the OHL) and the USA Hockey Distinguished Achievement Award. He is also a member of the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame and the United States Hockey Hall of Fame.