It’s unclear who would be in charge of choosing any potential injury replacements if needed. The United States opens the Olympics Feb. 14 against Slovenia.
The talent pool now and in other tournaments is deeper in part because of Johannson, who has overseen the growth of hockey in the United States beyond the “Miracle On Ice” in 1980. The retired American forward Jeremy Roenick said, “USA hockey is a world power now because of people like Jimmy Johannson.”
The United States. won 64 medals, including 34 gold, in major international competition during Johannson’s tenure. The Americans in particular became a perennial threat to win the world junior championship, showing the program’s improvement at the youth levels.
Carolina Hurricanes president Don Waddell said Johannson “has been a driving force in making both the USA Hockey men’s and women’s programs into consistent winners.” and Phil Housley, who coached the 2015 junior team to a gold medal, said Johannson “grew our game to new heights.”
“In building the teams that achieved so much success for USA Hockey, Jim Johannson had a sharp eye for talent, a strong sense of chemistry and a relentless pursuit of excellence,” N.H.L. Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “As we mourn his loss, we will remember the positive outlook Jim brought to his tireless efforts to advance USA Hockey.”
Johannson, who played for the U.S. at the 1988 and 1992 Olympics, 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. He was promoted to assistant executive director of hockey operations in 2007, overseeing the organization’s efforts in fielding teams for international competition.
He played college hockey at Wisconsin and helped the Badgers win the N.C.A.A. championship as a freshman. He was selected by the Hartford Whalers in the seventh round of the 1982 draft, and although he never played in the N.H.L., he was respected and well-liked by those all over hockey.
“We lost a true friend in Jim Johannson today,” said Granato, who played with Johannson on the 1988 Olympic team. “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. Please pray for Jim’s wife and daughter, Abby and Ellie.”
Kelleher said USA Hockey would think about ways to pay tribute to Johannson at the Pyeongchang Games after grieving this loss.
“Today it’s really just trying to help his family as best as we can and really just try and honestly put one foot in front of the other,” Kelleher said. “We’ll have to see what we can do to try and honor him in some fashion.”