BIRTHPLACE: Edina, Minn.
BORN: November 18, 1921
TEAMS/ASSOCIATIONS: Black Forest University, University of Minnesota Medical Center, University of Minnesota, Fighting Saints, Minnesota North Stars, U.S. Olympic Teams, U.S. National Teams
One would be hard pressed to name any individual who has been a member of more U.S. international hockey teams than Dr. V. George Nagobads. While he was born in Riga, Latvia, and spent the first quarter century of his life in Europe, he became one of the greatest influencers of American hockey of his time.
Growing up in Latvia and learning to play ice hockey at the age of 10, Nagobads always had a love for the sport. After receiving his medical degree from Black Forest University in Germany, Nagobads moved to the United States in 1952 to begin his surgical residency in Minneapolis at the University of Minnesota’s Medical Center.
There, he developed a rapport with the University of Minnesota’s men’s ice hockey players and their head coach, Herb Brooks. He would eventually serve as a team physician for the Gophers for 34 years, beginning in 1958 and lasting until his retirement in 1992.
During his tenure in Minnesota, Nagobads was a part of three NCAA Division I national championship teams. For his service, the men’s ice hockey team honored him in 1978 with the creation of the annual Dr. V. George Nagobads Unsung Hero Award.
Simultaneous to his duties with the Gophers, Nagobads was the team physician for the World Hockey Association’s Minnesota Fighting Saints from 1973-76 and the National Hockey League’s Minnesota North Stars from 1984-92.
His largest contributions to hockey in the United States may have come on the international stage, however. Nagobads was named the team physician for five U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Teams (1968, 1972, 1980, 1984, 1988), including the “Miracle on Ice” squad that won the gold medal at the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid, N.Y., and the silver medal-winning 1972 U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team that competed in Sapporo, Japan.
Nagobads served as the team physician for 15 U.S. Men’s National Teams during the course of 23 years (1967, 1970-71, 1973-75, 1977, 1979, 1981-82, 1985-87, 1989-90), including the 1970 and 1974 U.S. Men’s National Teams that won the gold medal at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Hockey Championship in Pool B and the silver medal-winning 1973 team. He also served as team physician for the first-ever U.S. Women’s National Team that won the silver medal at the 1990 IIHF World Women’s Championship.
In addition, Nagobads was the team physician for five U.S. National Junior Teams (1974, 1985-87, 1989), including the squad that earned the bronze medal at the 1986 IIHF World Junior Championship; the 1988 U.S. Under-17 Select Team; the 1989 Spengler Cup Team; and the 1984 and 1987 Canada Cup squads.
In 1984, Nagobads became USA Hockey’s chief medical officer, a title he held until 1992. He was also appointed to USA Hockey’s Safety and Protective Equipment Committee in 1984, and was named to the IIHF’s Medical Committee in 1990.
In 2003, Nagobads received the Paul Loicq Award from the IIHF for serving international hockey in an extraordinary manner and promoting ice hockey worldwide. He was also honored by USA Hockey with both its Distinguished Achievement Award and Excellence in Safety Award in 2005.
Nagobads and his late wife Velda have two grown daughters, Silvia and Brigita.