January 21, 2018 / 7:52 PM / a year ago

Ice hockey: Johannson, U.S. Olympic team general manager, dies at 53

(Reuters) - Jim Johannson, the general manager of the 2018 U.S. Olympic men’s ice hockey team and a two-time Olympian, has died, USA Hockey said on Sunday. He was 53.

The assistant executive director of hockey operations with USA Hockey, Johannson was part of the management team for every Olympic Games since 2002 and served on the U.S. staff for 18 world championship teams.

“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,” National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

“The NHL family’s respect for Jim’s contributions to hockey, at all levels, is exceeded only by our shock and sorrow over his sudden passing.”

Johannson died in his sleep early on Sunday morning at his home in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA Hockey said.

“He was so compassionate and as loyal a friend as you could have,” said Tony Granato, who will coach the U.S. team at next month’s Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. “He was the ultimate team mate.”

Johannson twice played for the U.S. in the Winter Olympic Games (1988 and 1992) and was a member of the American team at the 1992 world championship.

“We are beyond shocked and profoundly saddened,” said Pat Kelleher, executive director of USA Hockey. “As accomplished as Jim was in hockey, he was the absolute best, most humble, kind and caring person you could ever hope to meet.”

Reporting by Gene Cherry in Salvo, North Carolina, editing by Ed Osmond

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