Saturday night, Coach Mark Johnson will become the first former Badger men’s hockey player to have his jersey retired. The ceremony will take place during the Wisconsin men’s hockey game.
The hockey greatness that goes with Johnson’s #10 jersey all started because he grew up in Madison. Johnson began as a stick boy in the 1970’s for his father, Bob Johnson. Mark then played three seasons for the Badgers – setting program scoring records in all three seasons.
“The biggest dream I think a lot of kids playing hockey in Madison when I was growing up was maybe you’ll get a chance to play for the Wisconsin Badgers,” said Johnson at a press conference on Monday.
Johnson did just that – and is now in his 15th season as the head coach of the Wisconsin women’s hockey team. The “Miracle on Ice” star is the winningest coach in program history and has led the Badgers to four NCAA titles.
“I look at the last 15 or 16 years of being the women’s coach – I wouldn’t want to change any of that,” said Coach Johnson. “A lot of good things have come out of it. Not only for myself, but for my family, my daughters and some of the players that I have been able to touch over that time.”
Johnson’s influence doesn’t end on the women’s side of the puck, but extends to the current Wisconsin men’s hockey team. Each player knows well who Mark is, what he accomplished and what he means to their program.
“I tried to look at other athletes at other schools, and have seen what great players did at their programs,” said Wisconsin men’s hockey coach Tony Granato. “Find another 5 athletes you can put in the same argument of who is the greatest college athlete and what he did for his program and his sports. I’ll put Mark up there against anybody.”