Where were you born and raised and how did you get into hockey?
I was born and raised in New Ulm, Minn. I started playing hockey at the age of 10 outdoors. Then I went on to play high school for four years. I was a defenseman during that time.What’s your most memorable youth or high school game?
My memory is playing outdoors in St. Peter on outdoor artificial ice. There was no roof, late February, mid-30s, it was great. Beating Mankato in a district playoff game stands out.How did you get into coaching?
I was coaching as a junior in high school. Each player had to take a squirt or mite team. I had a squirt team in 1973-74. I coached on and off until the early 90s. However, I’ve been coaching every year since 1992 at pee wee’s through juniors.How did you become commissioner of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League?
Four years ago I was assistant for Shattuck-St. Mary’s junior team and because of a reorganization of USA Hockey, the school withdrew their membership from the MJHL. The commissioner at the time took another position with USA Hockey and I was appointed by the league’s Board of Directors.Could you give a brief history of the league?
Well we go back to 1973 and have had a number of franchise changes over the years. I think a highlight for us was back in ‘89 when our Tri-Metro Whalers won the National Junior B Tournament. Then the Northland Voyageurs won the Nationals in 1990 and the Whalers repeated as National champs in ’92. The East Metro Lakers got to Nationals in ’97 and ’98, finishing second in ’98. In more recent times the addition of out-of-state teams has been historically important for us.How does the league differ in operation from that of the United States Hockey League (USHL) and North American Hockey League (NAHL)?
We are a Tier III Junior A pay-to-play non-profit organization. Those who play in the league must pay an annual fee to participate. Our budgets are less than the Tier I USHL or Tier II NAHL hockey leagues.What’s the biggest problem in operating a league franchise?
I think that would be maintaining financial stability and keeping your organization in good standing. All of our organizations do a good job in this regard and we don’t have teams dropping out right and left.Have any MJHL players recently advanced to Division I hockey?
The majority of our players move on to the Tier II NAHL and Division III colleges. Josh Turnbull from Duluth is a freshman at Wisconsin this year, so he’s one of our players who made it to Division I. He tends to be exceptional in that regard.What would be your advise to anyone interested in investing in a team?
Expansion is beneficial to any league, but you have to realize there are realistic limitations in terms of the talent pool. We have nine teams now and I’m very comfortable with that. If anyone is interested in an existing team, or possible a new team, they can get hold of me at 507.210.1566.Where do you see the league ten years from now?
I like to take it year by year, but certainly I want to see the numbers of our players going to Division III increase as well as sending more to Division I.
Erik Johnson | Defenseman, St. Louis Blues
Doug Johnson | Editor, Let's Play Hockey
Doug Woog | Former Minnesota Gophers Head Coach
Bob Naegele, Jr. | Former Chairman, Minnesota Wild &
Norm Coleman | Former U.S. Senator and Mayor of Saint Paul
Laura Halldorson | Former Gopher's Women's Coach
Phil Housley | Former NHL Player and High School Coach
Lou Nanne | Former NHL Player, Coach and General Manager