The hockey world is mourning the loss of USA Hockey's Jim Johannson, who passed away unexpectedly early Sunday morning. He was 53.
A native of Rochester, Minnesota, Johannson was the assistant executive director of USA Hockey and the general manager of the 2018 U.S. Olympic men's ice hockey team.
Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile and Head Coach Peter Laviolette - with both men having worked with Johannson at multiple Olympic and IIHF World Championship appearances - were among those shocked and saddened by the news.
"[This is] such a devastating loss for all of us," said Laviolette, who was also a teammate of Johannson's while playing for Team USA at the 1988 Winter Olympics. "I think about all of the great things that Jim has done and how he has helped and touched so many lives. Today I lost a roommate, a teammate, a colleague and a great friend. [This is] one of my saddest days in a very long time as tears just keep rolling down my face. I will pray for him and his beautiful family and ask that everyone do the same. His presence in our sport will never be replaced and he will never be forgotten for all that he did. I'm going to miss you, JJ."
"He was just a wonderful person," Poile said of Johannson. "He was a person you looked forward to seeing every day. He was always upbeat and positive. He was the face of USA Hockey and his leadership is probably unparalleled in any country over the last 20 years of working with USA Hockey. There was no negative side to his personality. Everything was always positive, and I think that's reflective of the growth of USA Hockey under his time."
Johannson played college hockey at the University of Wisconsin from 1982-86 and won an NCAA title as a freshman. He was selected by the Hartford Whalers in the seventh round (130th overall) of the 1982 NHL Draft and went on to play 374 games of professional hockey between 1987-94 in the International Hockey League, including two seasons with the Milwaukee Admirals.
He twice played for the U.S. in the Olympic Winter Games (1988, 1992) and was also a member of the U.S. Men's National Team that participated in the 1992 IIHF Men's World Championship.
From USA Hockey, Johannson's thoughts on serving as general manager of the 2018 U.S. Olympic men's ice hockey team:
"I've had a lot of fun at USA Hockey but one of the most fun days I've had was calling 15 or 16 guys early one morning from my house to tell them they were on the 2018 Olympic team. And the second time was telling the last few guys that they made the team. It meant so much to me that I got to call those guys and tell them that they were going to represent us. I know how much it meant to those players at this point in their careers. I know they will represent us well."