Jim Johannson, the general manager of the U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team for the Pyeongchang Games and assistant executive director of USA Hockey, died in his sleep Sunday morning in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA Hockey said in a statement. No cause of death was given.
Johannson, 53, had been with the organization since 2000. He oversaw initiatives aimed at promoting and growing the sport and presided over USA Hockey’s operations in fielding teams for international competitions. Under his supervision, U.S. hockey teams won 64 medals at major international events, the current American Development Model was conceived and implemented, and USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich., became a home rink for all U.S. teams.
Johannson played college hockey at the University of Wisconsin and had a long minor-league career. He also played in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics.
“We are beyond shocked and profoundly saddened,” Pat Kelleher, executive director of USA Hockey, said in a statement. “As accomplished as Jim was in hockey, he was the absolute best, most humble, kind and caring person you could ever hope to meet. His impact on our sport and more importantly the people and players in our sport have been immeasurable.”
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement: “In building the teams that achieved so much success for USA Hockey, Jim Johannson had a sharp eye for talent, a strong sense of chemistry and a relentless pursuit of excellence. The NHL family’s respect for Jim’s contributions to hockey at all levels is exceeded only by our shock and sorrow over his sudden passing.”