(ATR) Olympian and general manager of Team USA’s PyeongChang 2018 hockey team Jim Johannson died unexpectedly in his sleep on Sunday morning.
USA Hockey is reeling from the news and trying to determine next steps.
"We are beyond shocked and profoundly saddened," said USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher. "His impact on our sport and more importantly the people and players in our sport has been immeasurable.
"Our condolences go out to his entire family, but especially to his loving wife Abby and their young daughter Ellie."
When asked by Around the Rings if there’s any chance of Team USA being able to honor Johannson at February’s Winter Olympics, either via a special patch or demonstration, director of communications Dave Fischer said all will be determined in due time.
"We’re just 24 hours into a devastating loss and all you outline will be discussed as we continue to move forward," he told ATR.
Johannson, 53, was instrumental in organizing the U.S. hockey team for the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics, the first since the Lillehammer 1994 Games to not feature current players from the National Hockey League.
The coach of Team USA’s first non-NHL team in years, Tony Granato, took to Twitter to remember Johannson.
We lost a true friend in Jim Johannson today.
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. pic.twitter.com/vGAR4ZTFu2— Coach Tony Granato (@TonyGranato) January 21, 2018Johannson joined USA Hockey as international activities and U.S. Olympic Committee relations manager in 2000 before being promoted to director of hockey operations in 2003. He became assistant executive director of hockey operations in 2007 where he had a large hand in determining Team USA rosters for international competitions.
During his tenure with USA Hockey, Team USA earned 34 gold, 19 silver and 11 bronze medals in major international competitions. However, his roots with USA Hockey extend deeper than his managerial roles.
Johannson competed for Team USA at the Calgary 1988 and the Albertville 1992 Winter Olympics as a center, helping the team to seventh and fourth place finishes, respectively.
"Jim’s positive influence was enormous and will be felt for generations to come," said USA Hockey President Jim Smith. "He was widely respected across the world and his genuine nature helped advance our sport in so many ways.
"Today, we are a medal contender every time we put a team on the ice for international competition, and he played a major role in helping us get to that point. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his entire family. It’s a sad day for all of us."
Written by Kevin Nutley
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