US-born NHL players gather to honor late USA Hockey exec Jim Johannson
By LARRY LAGE
AP Hockey Writer
PLYMOUTH — Dozens of U.S.-born NHL players paid tribute to longtime USA Hockey executive Jim Johannson and raised funds for two of his favorite causes, his 2-year-old daughter and grassroots hockey.
Auston Matthews and Patrick Kane were among the American stars and standouts who gathered for a charity game won by the Blue over the White 14-9 Sunday.
“He was very good to me and my family,” said Matthews, who played for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program before Toronto drafted him No. 1 overall in 2016. “He gave me an opportunity to play for USA Hockey.”
Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin led the push to get many players in the league to travel, at their expense, to play an exhibition game for 3,000-plus fans at USA Hockey Arena.
“Guys went about and beyond,” Larkin said. “All I had to do was send a couple texts.”
The event honored Johannson, who died of heart disease at age 53 in January. He was serving as the U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team’s general manager when he died less than three weeks before the Pyeongchang Games.