April 08, 2016

Norm Johnson

Former Boston Bruins and Chicago Black Hawk center Norm Johnson passed away on March 22nd, 2016. He was 83.

Johnson passed away in Portland. He finished his lengthy professional hockey career with the Portland Buckaroos in 1971. Though he left to coach elsewhere, he returned and established himself as a successful developer, a dedicated family man and passionate golfer.

Johnson was born in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan on November 27th, 1932. The sixth of seven siblings, young Norm took to the ice and always knew he wanted to be a hockey player.

After graduating high school at the age of 17, Johnson took a job as a brakeman on the Canadian Pacific Railway.  He was also playing junior hockey for the hometown Moose Jaw Canucks.

Johnson nearly joined the RCMP but decided to keep chasing pucks and stay pretty close to home. He played in Yorkton and Regina, Saskatchewan and Brandon, Manitoba.

When he was 24 years old he was signed by the Boston Bruins. He would head east, but did receive a lot of ice time. In two seasons with the Bruins he would score four goals and 24 points in 54 games. He added four goals in 12 playoff games in the spring of 1958.

Johnson was moved to the Chicago Black Hawks, but would barely play. He was destined to be farmed out, playing as a high scoring center in minor league cities like Buffalo, Calgary, Los Angeles and finally Portland. Johnson's final game saw him and the Buckaroos lift the Lester Patrick Cup as WHL champions.

Johnson went on to coach in Spokane (where, as a rookie coach, he guided to Jets to become the first American based team to win the Allan Cup) and Brandon (coaching the legendary junior Wheat Kings), but would return to Portland in the late 1980s.

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