Jim Johannson, the general manager of the U.S. Olympic men's hockey team, died in his sleep Sunday morning, just weeks before the start of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, USA Hockey announced.
USA Hockey Executive Director Pat Kelleher said in a statement the organization is "beyond shocked and profoundly saddened" by the loss of the 53-year-old Rochester, Minnesota native.
"As accomplished as Jim was in hockey, he was the absolute best, most humble, kind and caring person you could ever hope to meet," Kelleher said. "His impact on our sport and more importantly the people and players in our sport have been immeasurable. Our condolences go out to his entire family, but especially to his loving wife Abby and their young daughter Ellie.”
Johannson began working for USA Hockey in 2000 after spending five years as the general manager of the Twin Cities Vulcans in the United States Hockey League. The team won the 2000 USA Hockey Junior A National Championship title under his guidance.
He was later promoted to assistant executive director of hockey operations in 2007, overseeing the organization's efforts in fielding teams for international competition.
He had a number of accomplishments in his role at USA Hockey, including capturing 64 medals in major international competition, including 34 gold, 19 silver and 11 bronze medals.
“Jim’s positive influence was enormous and will be felt for generations to come,” Jim Smith, president of USA Hockey, said in a statement. “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.”
Johannson played college hockey at Wisconsin and helped the Badgers win the NCAA championship as a freshman, and was selected by the Hartford Whalers in the 7th round of the 1982 NHL Draft. He later went on to play 374 games of professional hockey between 1987-94 in the International Hockey League where he registered 279 points, including 119 goals.
He also was a member of the U.S. Olympic team in 1988 and 1992.
USA Hockey said funeral arrangements are pending.