It was all his plan. and then something, nobody was planning on.
“We’re here now, we knew it was going to be hard to be here without him,” Team USA head coach Tony Granato said.
He picked the team, he picked the staff, and just weeks before Jim Johannson got to see it all play out in South Korea, he died in his sleep at his home in Colorado Springs.
“I went to the services in Colorado and they were tough," Team USA captain Brian Gionta said. "You see how many peoples lives he’s touched and what he’s been a part of. That’s the special part of what J.J. is.”
Johannson has been a huge part of USA hockey for years, but this was his biggest act. Head coach Tony Granato goes way back with his G.M., but the two had never spent more time interacting than in the months leading up to this tournament.
“That’s what I’m going to miss most. Is the fact that we had our best year with him as G.M. and me as coach and we had some sort of communication everyday," Granato said. "Since he’s been gone I’m waiting for that call every day waiting for that call to talk about whatever it might be.”
Team USA is making sure Jimmy is in South Korea, in fact they carry him everywhere. They've made shirts and commemorative coins with his initials on them, and he has his own jersey that sits in the dressing room and coaches room.
“It’s obviously tough times over here without him, this is the team that he had chosen, but we’re going to use him as motivation and his passion, and put that in to the games,” Gionta said.
On team picture day in South Korea, Jim was represented. His wife Abby and young daughter Ellie were invited to stand in his spot.
“I think it’s both, it makes you feel good and then it makes you miss Jimmy more, Granato said. "He left a beautiful family and it was nice to have them with us today.”
His team. His plan. His dream. And now Team USA is forced to chase it all, in his stead.
“Knowing that his spirit and how we will do this for him, that’s all you can do,” Granato said.
??aaron matas. 9news.??