Johnson, Sauer Earn Lester Patrick Award
CHN Staff Report
Two people with strong Wisconsin ties were named recipients of the 2011 Lester Patrick Trophy, a distinguished award which is presented annually by the NHL for outstanding service to hockey in the United States.
Long-time NHL forward Mark Johnson, a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic gold-medal-winning team and currently women's head coach at Wisconsin, and long-time Colorado College and Wisconsin coach Jeff Sauer, were two of this year's recipients. Hockey Hall of Famer Bob Pulford, a veteran of over 1,000 NHL games and a former coach and general manager, and USA Hockey executive Tony Rossi are the other two honorees.
The Minneapolis-born Mark Johnson was a star at Wisconsin, but is perhaps best-known as the leading scorer for the champion Team USA at the 1980 Olympic Winter Games — one of 13 international tournaments in which he would play for the U.S. Johnson scored twice in Team USA's iconic victory over the Soviet Union en route to the gold medal. Johnson also competed for 11 years in the NHL (1979-90), collecting 508 points in 669 games.
Johnson has led his alma mater to four NCAA women's 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 IIHF 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 native of Fort Atkinson, Wis., played for Bob Johnson at Colorado College before stepping into the coaching ranks. He was a head coach for more than 30 years, first at Colorado College from 1971-1980 and then at Wisconsin from 1983-2002. Sauer won national 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.
Johnson and Sauer share an ironic connection. When Sauer was forced out as coach of the Badgers after the 2002 season, Johnson was bypassed as his replacement in favor of Mike Eaves. Johnson went on to coach the women's team, and last spring, interviewed to be the first coach for Penn State before taking himself out of the running.