Sept. 20, 2011
MADISON, Wis. -- Distinguished player and coach Mark Johnson and college coaching legend Jeff Sauer are among four people named recipients of the 2011 Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to hockey in the United States. The Badger duo are joined by Hockey Hall of Famer Bob Pulford and long-time USA Hockey executive Toni Rossi.
The award, one of the most prestigious in hockey, was presented to the National Hockey League by the New York Rangers in 1966. It honors the memory of Lester Patrick, who spent 50 years in hockey as a player, coach and general manager and was a pioneer in the sport's development.
Johnson, a Minneapolis native, is an not only an accomplished athlete, but has distinguished himself as an outstanding coach as well. He played 11 years in the NHL (1979-90), where he amassed 508 points in 669 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota North Stars, Hartford Whalers, St. Louis Blues and New Jersey Devils.
Johnson may be best known as the leading scorer for Team USA at the 1980 Olympic Winter Games, where he scored twice in Team USA's iconic victory against the Soviet Union en route to the gold medal. All total, Johnson represented the United States as a player in 13 international tournaments. He also enjoyed a three-year collegiate playing career at the University of Wisconsin where he was a two-time All-American and was named the Western Collegiate Hockey Association Freshman of the Year in 1977. He finished his Badger career with 125 goals in 125 games played, which still stands as the school record for career goals.
Currently the head coach of the women's hockey team at his alma mater, having led Wisconsin to four NCAA championships (2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011). He also served as the head coach of the 2010 silver-medal winning U.S. Olympic women's ice hockey team and twice was as an assistant coach for the U.S. men's national team at the International Ice Hockey Federation Men's World Championship (2000, 2002). Johnson, the son of legendary college and NHL coach “Badger” Bob Johnson, was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004.
Sauer, a Fort Atkinson, Wis., native, is one of the most successful and distinguished coaches in the history of college hockey. Following his playing career at Colorado College, where he played for Bob Johnson, Sauer spent more than 30 seasons as an NCAA Division I head coach -- both at Colorado College from 1971-1980 and then at the University of Wisconsin from 1983-2002. Sauer won NCAA championships as coach of the Badgers in 1983 and 1990 and ranks eighth on the all-time wins list of college hockey coaches with more than 650 victories (655-532-57) and a winning percentage of .549.
Sauer also is closely involved with preparing and coaching the USA Deaf Olympic Team, having participated in seven Deaflympics and earning a gold medal in 2007 at the IIHF Winter Deaf Olympics. In April 2009, he also coached Team USA to a bronze medal in the first ever World Deaf Hockey Championships. Sauer earned the John "Snooks" Kelley Founders Award from the American Hockey Coaches Association in 2003, presented to individuals in the coaching profession who have contributed to the overall growth and development of the sport of ice hockey in the United States. He is a member of USA Hockey's International Council and the Disabled Hockey Committee and also currently works for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association as assistant to the commissioner. Sauer was recently named head coach of the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team.
The recipients will be honored at an evening reception on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at the RiverCentre in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Past winners include most of hockey’s great names including Gordie Howe, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Bobby Orr, Bobby Hull and Hobey Baker, as well as former Badgers Bob Johnson, Mike Richter and Brian Mullen.