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 Remembering "Badger Bob" Johnson

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Join date : 2015-08-28

PostSubject: Remembering "Badger Bob" Johnson   Sun Nov 27, 2016 7:04 pm

Hello, all. It was 25 years ago yesterday, November 26, 1991, that hockey lost a great man, one who I always will remember fondly. "BADGER BOB" JOHNSON died at age 60.

Johnson led the Penguins to the franchise's first Stanley Cup, 1990-91. He was a stickler for fundamentals. But he also was a player's coach. He related amazingly well to the players, somehow making the drudgery of the NHL fun, hence his saying "IT'S A GREAT DAY FOR HOCKEY!!!" That drudgery, of course, includes travel and a physical beating day in and day out in practices and games.

The combination of Johnson's ability to touch pro athletes at a personal level, in-house star power including a young C named Mario Lemieux and a rookie W named Jaromir Jagr plus the steal of a trade at the deadline in which HOF center Ron Francis was the key player coming from the Hartford Whalers caused what I had only dreamed could occur. Lord Stanley was in Pittsburgh for the first time. For me, it was an AMAZING RIDE through the playoffs, capped by the win in six games over the Minnesota North Stars in the final, which included the highlight-reel goal from Lemieux in which he split the Dmen and beat goaltender Jon Casey.

(The fact that Minnesota was the opponent also was unreal. The North Stars were the No. 8 (last) seed in the West and had a record of 12 games under .500 in the regular season. Yet, they upset St. Louis and Chicago in the first two rounds to reach the Western final.

Minnesota then took out the defending Stanley Cup champion Edmonton Oilers in five games to reach the Stanley Cup final. It must be noted that this Oilers team did not have Wayne Gretzky and finished at .500 in the regular season. But it did have HOFs C Mark Messier, W Glenn Anderson and G Grant Fuhr.)

Tragedy struck Johnson a few months after he experienced the ultimate hockey joy. He first was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm and was hospitalized in August 1991. He then was also diagnosed with brain cancer and lived three more months.

Johnson also had great success as a coach on his way to the top of the hockey mountain. And his coaching style, adherence to fundamentals while connecting with the players, never changed.

Before coming to the Penguins, Johnson was the coach of the Calgary Flames. He led Calgary to the Western Conference championship in 1986. The Flames, making their first appearance in the Stanley Cup final, lost to Montreal.

Johnson got his nickname "Badger Bob" since he was the head coach for many seasons of the University of Wisconsin Badgers. He led the Badgers to seven appearances in the NCAA Division 1 final and won three championships.

I have attached a link of a tribute to Johnson. I can watch it. But I do get a bit emotional.

It is much more difficult for me to watch the video of the memorial tribute the Penguins gave to Johnson at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena before a game, which included a darkened arena and a female singer. That video also is on YouTube.

"Badger Bob" Johnson made hockey fun for his players. He was one of a kind. I miss him and will always remember him.

Yes, it always is a great day for hockey. THANK YOU "Badger Bob."

I have asked Paul to change my team logo for a bit. The change is to the patch the Penguins wore on their jerseys in the 1991-92 season to honor Johnson following his passing. I'll return to the main logo after the holidays.
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