Dave Ogrean and Peter Lindberg go way back.
Hockey has been the glue that bonded the duo for decades, so it’s fitting that they will share the stage as the 2017 Lester Patrick Trophy recipients when the United States Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is held Dec. 13 in Boston.
The award, one of the most prestigious in American hockey, was first presented in 1966. It honors the memory of Lester Patrick, who spent 50 years in hockey as a player, coach and general manager. He was a pioneer in the sport’s development.
Both Ogrean and Lindberg have been major contributors to hockey over the course of their lives. Ogrean served two stints as executive director of USA Hockey from 1993-99 and 2005-17 before retiring in June. Lindberg served as a USA Hockey district director for more than 30 years, in addition to many other roles.
“It is so cool to be getting it the same year as Peter Lindberg,” Ogrean said. “Peter is a guy who, because of the nature of what his role was, has never gotten the kind of attention that he deserved. When you look back at how USA Hockey has evolved from the time Walter Bush became president, the changes that have been made in the organization, the way the organization has grown and advanced, Peter has been a critical piece of so much of that development and the infrastructure. And a lot of behind-the-scenes ways people may not be aware of.”
Said Lindberg: “For administrators of hockey programs, this is like the Stanley Cup, as far as I’m concerned. This is a big award in hockey and so it ranks right up there with me.
“It’s very meaningful for me and even more so when I’m receiving this at the same time as Dave Ogrean.”
Ogrean, 64, had plenty of achievements during his 18 years as USA Hockey’s executive director. U.S. teams brought home 60 medals, including 32 gold, while Ogrean was serving. The U.S. also became the first country to win five gold medals in major International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship play in one year (2016-17).
Ogrean had a big hand in helping launch the USA Hockey National Team Development Program (NTDP) in 1996 and the American Development Model (ADM) 13 years later. He also facilitated a partnership with the U.S. Olympic Committee for its SafeSport initiative.
“This is a personal honor that reflects the efforts of an awful lot of other people,” said Ogrean, who lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado. “And as I’ve said all along, and it’s true when you serve in a role like executive director, when things go bad, you probably get disproportionate blame. And when things go really well, you definitely get disproportionate credit. The things that matter most to me are still more the success that some of our teams have had and ambitious and sometimes controversial programs like the NTDP or the ADM that we’ve been able to roll out and have so much success with; also getting behind SafeSport as a concept early, before most other NGBs. Those are the things that are most important and leave the biggest impact on USA Hockey.”
Ogrean is also extremely proud of USA Hockey’s inclusion of disabled athletes.
“I’m very proud that USA Hockey has been an absolute leader and has been recognized as such for its embrace of diversity in its playing population,” Ogrean said. “Our desire to be the organization that would administer, train and field the sled hockey team for international competition, that makes us unique compared to many other NGBs. We’re just wired differently. Anybody that’s playing hockey, we want them to be a part of our organization.”
Lindberg is on an extremely short list of USA Hockey volunteers who have received the Lester Patrick Trophy.
He got his start in hockey in the late 1960s as a coach in the Edina Hockey Association (EHA) in Minnesota. Edina High School is one of the state’s elite boys hockey programs with 12 state titles, most in Minnesota history.
Lindberg’s next step was serving on the EHA board of directors before becoming the president of the Minnesota Amateur Hockey Association (MAHA) in 1983. He was a hands-on president throughout his tenure.
“Even though there’s a small group of leadership at the top, everybody’s involved in the process all the time,” Lindberg said. “Yes, it’s very much hands-on, and that’s the secret of the success of our organization is that you don’t just sit back and watch things happen, you take part, you participate, you attend and offer suggestions and ideas. And you can use your experience you bring to the table.”
Lindberg was also a USA Hockey district director at the time and took on that role for more than 30 years. After his three-year term ended as MAHA president, Lindberg was appointed the first and only legal council chairman for USA Hockey until he retired in June 2014.
Lindberg’s day job was as an accomplished attorney. He served for more than 25 years as the Fourth Judicial District judge for Minnesota, including three years as chief judge, and one year on the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
He loved being able to dedicate his time to USA Hockey for so many years and make an impact at the local level.
“We’ve done some good things and I think USA Hockey has done a great job of working the base of its membership, which are the youth players and the young players,” said Lindberg, 82. “We have gone through and implemented coaching certification programs and of course we have summer seasons for clinics for kids and coaches. We’ve been on top of developing from the ground up, and we have the Olympic medals to show for it. But that doesn’t happen unless you can work well with the local programs. That’s one of the things we’ve been very effective at; helping the state and local affiliates to organize the programs and use our methods of certification for coaching and all of the things that make a program effective.”
Ogrean and Lindberg are both looking forward to induction night when they will be forever linked as Lester Patrick Trophy winners.
“When I think about being up on the stage with Pete and think about the other people who’ve received this award, when I think about the other folks who are going to be inducted into the Hall of Fame that same night, it’s tremendous company and wonderful people and just a great big honor,” Ogrean said.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.