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Jim Johannson photo 1-22

Jim Johannson played for UW from 1982 to 1986, helping the Badgers win the NCAA title his freshman year.

Former University of Wisconsin men's hockey player Jim Johannson, an executive at USA Hockey who was preparing for next month's Olympics, died early Sunday morning.

USA Hockey confirmed Sunday that Johannson, 53, passed away in his sleep at his home in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Johannson, the assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey, was the general manager of the U.S. men's Olympic team.

His former Badgers teammate, UW coach Tony Granato, is the head coach of this year's Olympic team.

"We lost a true friend in Jim Johannson today," Granato said in a statement. "He was so compassionate and as loyal a friend as you could have. He was the ultimate teammate.

"I am deeply saddened and shocked and sorry that he is no longer with us. He was a special human being. Please pray for Jim's wife and daughter, Abby and Ellie."

Johannson played for UW from 1982 to 1986, winning a national championship in 1983. He scored 63 goals and recorded 130 points in 148 games.

Two years after his brother, John, won the team's Ivan B. Williamson Scholastic Award, he was named its recipient in 1986. He was a two-time UW Athletic Board scholar as the player with the highest grade-point average on the men's hockey team.

Alongside Granato, he was a Western Collegiate Hockey Association All-Academic selection in the 1984-85 and 1985-86 seasons.

He also shared Olympic ice with Granato in 1988 and played for the U.S. again in 1992.

Johannson was part of USA Hockey's management teams for the 2010 and 2014 men's Olympic teams and has been a lead member of the staff for recent World Junior Championship groups.

He joined USA Hockey in 2000 after working as general manager of the United States Hockey League's Twin Cities Vulcans. With the USHL team, he worked with current Badgers associate head coach Mark Strobel, who was a Vulcans assistant coach in the 1999-2000 season.

"I'm sad. We lost a good one," Strobel said. "They don't come better than Jim Johannson. I don't think the guy had an enemy."

Two USA Hockey giants with UW connections have died in the past year. Former Badgers coach Jeff Sauer, who worked in many roles with the national governing body, passed away on Feb. 2, 2017.

"He, like Coach Sauer, gave more back to the game than he ever expected back to him," Strobel said of Johannson. "He did it because he loved people, he loved hockey and he wanted to grow the sport and players."

Born March 10, 1964, in Rochester, Minnesota, Johannson came to UW from Rochester Mayo High School.

He played in Germany for one season after his collegiate career, then embarked on a seven-season stint in the International Hockey League that ended with the Milwaukee Admirals in 1994.

Funeral arrangements are pending.


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