Prior to Wednesday night’s U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame Induction Celebration at the JW Marriott in downtown Nashville, members of the Class of 2018, along with Abby Johannson, the wife of the late Jim Johannson who received the NHL’s Lester Patrick Award, shared some of their thoughts on their impact on the game and what the game has meant to them.
“It’s an honor to be recognized for what I’ve been doing the past 33 years, particularly at Michigan. I’ve always had a belief in college hockey and education and combining them. That was successful for me to live that dream and to help other players do the same thing has been really rewarding. It’s nice to be recognized but I’m just a part of the big picture of U.S. hockey.
“It’s amazing how many people touch you along the way and then it’s amazing how many people you end up touching. You don’t notice it at the time but when it’s all over and the smoke clears and you start hearing from players how much they appreciated their time at Michigan and how much it’s benefitted them, that’s the kind of feedback I was hoping for because that’s the kind of feedback I gave my coach at Michigan, Al Renfrew. It changed my life and I hope I’ve been able to impact some other lives.”
“I don’t think it really hit me what I’ve been able to accomplish in hockey and what I’ve been able to do through hockey because life happened. Once I stopped playing, I got married, had boys and it’s just been a whirlwind. So I haven’t had time to think about it until I sat down the other night and started writing my speech. Looking back from my early days in Minnesota to the Gophers and the National Team, it kind of gave me goosebumps and hit me hard that I’ve been pretty lucky and fortunate.”
“JJ was a selfless and humble man, but I think he would be proud and honored to receive this award.”
“The World Juniors was his favorite time of year. I think he was passionate about the Under-20s in particular. He really looked forward to this tournament. It will be tough to watch it without him, but I know that his legacy will live on in the fact that he had a hand in helping some of these guys achieve their dream of making the team.”
“I’m so happy for what has taken place here in Nashville. I had a vision to turn this into a hockey market with sellout crowds and people wearing Predators gear and having the Predators being a big part of the community. It’s like building my favorite desert. You put a couple of scoops of ice cream in there, then you put the right sauce on there and then some whipped cream. And the cherry on the top is the Stanley Cup. Right now my sundae is built, we only have one more thing to do.”
“I made a mistake when I said that this was the capstone of my career because I’m not finished yet. I still have a few things to do.”
“My hockey life has been like a large pizza. I had a slice from almost every part of the pie, and I’ll tell you what I haven’t even gotten through half of it yet.”