The “Stars and Stripes Showdown” will take place at USA Hockey Arena on Sunday afternoon, with the Dylan Larkin-organized event paying tribute to USA Hockey executive director Jim Johansson, who passed away last January.
The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan penned an article about the game’s nexus…
Larkin spearheaded Sunday’s Stars & Stripes Showdown at Plymouth’s USA Hockey Arena, a charity game — and great opportunity for a no-hitting, fast-skating workout with drop-in team skates beginning soon — honoring Johannson’s impact on USA Hockey, and benefiting the Jim Johannson Legacy Fund of the USA Hockey Foundation and the Ellie Johannson College Fund.
During this endeavor — nearly every NHL team is represented, a sign of the league-wide support — Larkin found out how much work Johannson would typically put in while attempting to assemble national teams.
Larkin was at this spring’s world championships talking with Johannson’s brother, John, and USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher, and finalized the game with Kelleher and Scott Monaghan, senior director/operations.
“We were talking about how great of an idea it would be,” Larkin said. “We had a lot of steam behind the idea, everyone was rallying around JJ at the (tournament), and I saw that and thought it would be a great idea.
“It’s going to be special. A lot of superstars are coming into town. It’s going to be a star-studded lineup so it’s pretty cool they are all coming in to honor him and raise money for a great cause.”
Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary), Patrick Kane (Chicago), Auston Matthews (Toronto), Zach Parise and Ryan Suter (both Minnesota) are just some of the players committed to the game.
Red Wings players include Danny DeKeyser, Luke Glendening and Jimmy Howard, joining Larkin. Numerous local pros such as Kyle Connor (Winnipeg), Alex DeBrincat (Chicago), Cam Fowler (Anaheim), Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg), Jacob Trouba (Winnipeg) and Zach Werenski (Columbus) also are playing.
Jeff Blashill, Tony Granato (former Wings assistant/current Wisconsin head coach), John Hynes (New Jersey) and David Quinn (New York Rangers) will serve as coaches.
As did The Athletic’s Craig Custance:
“I didn’t think it was going to be this big,” Larkin told The Athletic during a phone conversation this week. “No way I thought it was going to be this big.”
But it is. It’s a testament to Larkin’s tenacity and dedication. But mostly, it’s a testament to just how much Johannson meant to these guys.
This is one of the last weekends before the grind really starts churning for NHL players. It’s one of the last weekends they can hang out with family. It’s one of the last weekends before they can avoid the spotlight and media glare that comes with being an NHL player.
And they’re giving it up. Giving it to the Johannson family. All the proceeds from the game will go to the Jim Johannson Legacy Fund of the USA Hockey Foundation and to the college fund for his 2-year-old daughter, Ellie.
It’s not just players and fans coming for the event. Dignitaries from international hockey federations all over the world have committed to going. The coaching staff features Jeff Blashill, Tony Granato, John Hynes and David Quinn. John Johannson will be sitting with David Brooks, Herb Brooks’ brother. It’s quite the event, especially considering it was put together in just a couple of months.
It says a lot about the impact one person can have.
“Jimmy would be so incredibly proud of this,” his brother [John] said. “He’d be embarrassed. He’d be totally embarrassed by it. But his answer would be, ‘OK, our program. It’s working.’”