Feb. 20, 2012
• Bob Johnson biography page
MADISON, Wis. -- The ice sheet upon which the University of Wisconsin hockey teams play is being named for one of the school’s legendary coaches, the UW Department of Athletics announced Monday.
The hockey playing surface in the Kohl Center will be named “Bob Johnson Rink” in recognition of the men’s hockey coach who guided the Badgers to three NCAA titles during a career that also included coaching stints in the Olympics, World Championships and the National Hockey League.
“It is a tremendous pleasure for our department to be able to name the Kohl Center ice for Bob Johnson,” UW Director of Athletics Barry Alvarez said. “I would like to thank the former Badger hockey players, as well as several other individuals, whose generosity has made this announcement possible. It is a well-deserved recognition of a Badger legend.”
Steve Alley, one of 22 former Badger hockey student-athletes who made gifts to help secure the ice sheet naming opportunity, expressed his support of the announcement.
“The Bob Johnson naming of the ice surface at the Kohl Center is a well-deserved tribute to our legendary coach,” said Alley, a UW hockey letterwinner from 1972-77. “This is something that the UW hockey program, alums, and fans can be proud of. Coach Johnson is not only the father of Wisconsin hockey, but is also a true international icon in the sport. Our alumni group proudly rallied around the Bob Johnson naming in support of the LaBahn Arena project as Bob is the unforgettable 'tie that binds' us all together. He was one of a kind!”
Johnson was one of the most popular and successful hockey teachers and administrators in the amateur and pro ranks. His effervescent personality combined with a technical knowledge of the game to make him a natural leader.
During his 15 years at the helm of the Badger program, Johnson coached Wisconsin to seven NCAA tournaments, winning three championships in 1973, 1977, and 1981. He coached numerous individual players to conference and national awards. He also led the United States at the 1976 Olympics, three Canada Cups (1981, 1984, 1987) and four IIHF Men's World Championships (1973-75, 1981). He went on to coach the NHL's Calgary Flames for five seasons (1982-87) and led the Pittsburgh Penguins to the Stanley Cup title in 1991 before passing away from brain cancer that fall.
Johnson was inducted into the Wisconsin Hockey Hall of Fame in 1987, United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1991, and the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1992. He was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1993.