2009 RED SMITH AWARD RECIPIENT MARK JOHNSON
“When you look back on the group of players and what they did after they left Lake Placid (1980 Olympics) you realize we had a pretty good team. But we were so young. We were up against astronomical odds because the teams that were going after the gold medal were professional players. They were men and we were just young kids-some of us didn’t even shave yet.”
Mark Johnson has been the head coach of the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team since the 2002-03 season. During that time, Johnson has lead the UW women’s hockey team to back-to-back Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) regular season playoffs and NCAA Championships while winning more games in a two year period (72) than any other team in women’s college history. In both 2006 and 2007, Johnson was named the Division I Coach of the year by the American Hockey Coaches’ Association.
Johnson’s impact on women’s hockey extends beyond the UW because he led the U.S. women’s national team at the 2007 International Ice Hockey Federation’s (IIHF) Worlds Women’s Championship in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and he led the U.S. women’s team at the 2006 Four Nations Cup in Kitchener, Ontario.
In his playing career, Mark Johnson helped Wisconsin to the 1977 national championship during his freshman year. He was the first Badger ever to win the WCHA Rookie of the Year honor and went on to become the school’s second all-time leading scorer with 256 points on a school-record 125 goals and 131 assists in just three seasons.
He led the 1980 U.S. Olympic team’s gold-medal winning effort with 11 points including two goals in the “Miracle On Ice” game against the Soviet Union. Then in the 1980 Olympic’s final game, he was credited with an assist on the game-winning goal against Finland.
Following the Olympics, Johnson played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for 11 years, beginning with the Pittsburgh Penguins, then the Minnesota North Stars, Hartford Whalers, St. Louis Blues, and New Jersey Devils. While playing 669 NHL games he scored 203 goals and 305 assists for a total of 508 points. In the 1983-84 NHL All-Star Game, Johnson tied a record by scoring three assists.