It is with great sadness Hockey Canada acknowledges the passing of Don Johnson, who died Saturday morning in St. John’s, N.L., at the age of 82. President of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association from 1975-79, Johnson had been an Honoured Life Member of Hockey Canada since 1982.
One of the most beloved sports figures in Atlantic Canada, Johnson touched countless lives in almost 50 years involved in hockey, from his time as president of the St. John’s Senior Hockey League to his countless appearances at the Hockey Canada Annual General Meeting, where he made sure his voice was heard in discussions on how to make the game better.
When his playing days ended in the early 1960s, Johnson joined the SJSHL as secretary in 1963, was named president in 1964 and was elected president of the Newfoundland Amateur Hockey Association (now Hockey Newfoundland & Labrador) in 1965. During his time with the NAHA, he worked to have the organization included as a CAHA branch, and earned respect for the manner in which he brought Newfoundland & Labrador hockey into the national discussion.
In 1975, Johnson was elected president of the CAHA, and played a major role in Canada’s return to international competition in the late 1970s. He was instrumental in the creation of the Canada Cup and enhanced Canada’s reputation within international hockey, serving as chairman of the 1978 IIHF World Junior Championship in Montreal, the first World Juniors to be held in Canada, where he helped lay the groundwork for the holiday tradition as we know it today.
Johnson remained heavily involved the game, particularly in St. John’s and Newfoundland & Labrador, right up until his passing, presenting the Don Johnson Cup, the Atlantic Canada Junior B Championship, to the Moncton Jr. Vitos just last month.
In addition to his Honoured Life Member status with Hockey Canada, Johnson was a Life Member of Hockey Newfoundland & Labrador, Softball Newfoundland & Labrador and Sport Newfoundland & Labrador, and is in the Newfoundland & Labrador Hockey Hall of Fame and Canada Games Council’s Hall of Honour.
Johnson was a great friend of hockey, and a tireless contributor to the game.
Hockey Canada sends its condolences to the friends and family of Don Johnson. He will be greatly missed.