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Tuesday @ The Rink

CHAT LIVE With Wisconsin Women's Head Coach Mark Johnson

Welcome to the CSTV.com moderated chat room!

On Tuesday, February 21 at 1:00 p.m. ET, Wisconsin women's head coach and 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team member Mark Johnson enters the chatroom at "Tuesday @ The Rink", presented by CSTV.com and USCHO.com.

Mark Johnson

Mark Johnson has been the head coach of the Wisconsin women's hockey team since the 2002-03 season. In three seasons, Johnson's team have continued to shatter school records and make program history, having set a new school record for wins each season he has been at the helm.

Johnson helped Wisconsin to the 1977 national championship as a freshman. The first Badger to win WCHA Rookie of the Year honors, he is the school's second all-time leading scorer with 256 points, including a school-record 125 goals. A two-time All-American, Johnson represented USA Hockey as a player in 13 international tournaments. Most notably, he led the 1980 U.S. Olympic Team's gold medal winning effort with 11 points.

Following his Olympic experience, Johnson embarked on a successful 11-year NHL career. He began his pro tenure with the Pittsburgh Penguins, before moving on to Minnesota, Hartford, St. Louis and New Jersey. In 669 NHL games, he collected 203 goals, 305 assists and 508 points, highlighted by his 87-point season as captain of Hartford in 1983-84.

In 2004, Johnson was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame for his individual accomplishments as a player and coach. He was previously inducted as a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team in 2003. A 1999 inductee into the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame, Johnson is the son of legendary Wisconsin men's head coach Bob Johnson.

** GET YOUR QUESTIONS IN NOW!!: Mark won't be stopping by until 1:00 p.m. EST on Tuesday, February 21st, and his time will be limited, so feel free to submit your questions now and we'll save them for his arrival!
CSTV.com Moderator: Welcome back to the second half of today's "Tuesday @ The Rink" Olympic doubleheader. We are now joined by Wisconsin women's head coach and 1980 Olympic Team member Mark Johnson.
Coach Johnson: Hi, everyone. It is great to be here. I'm ready to answer your questions.

Elizabeth, Pittsburgh, PA: Mr. Johnson, What was it like to have your team clinch the WCHA title this season?
Coach Johnson: It is obviously very special. Any time you do something for the first time, it is special. It is a tribute to our players, coaches and everyone involved with our program.

Nick (Madison): Wonderful season coach, good to see your squad get its first title. We have seen in the olympics what kim martin has done for sweden, I was hoping to get your take on her ability and with college hockey moving into the playoffs I was wondering what your opinion was on how to combat a "hot goaltender".
Coach Johnson: It seems like on both the men's and women's sides, if you have a couple players that can score goals for you and your goaltender is hot, anybody can beat anybody. The real vision I think we are seeing is the parity amongst the countries, which makes it very exciting if you are a spectator.

paul (Minneapolis,MN): you have used 3 goaltenders for most of the season, what are the pros/cons to this come tournament time?
Coach Johnson: Come tournament time, we'll take all three of them, put them into a bowl, stir them all together and come up with one. In reality, all three are capable of playing. It will be a difficult decision to choose one, but we are confident in all three.

dave (Madison): I saw a sign at your saturday game "Erika Lawler for Patty KazMaier", even though she isnt a current canidate you have two others this year, can you talk about what having the winner would do for your program?
Coach Johnson: Any time you can win a championship and individual players get national awards, it is a credit to that player because she has worked hard and put herself into position to win it. It gives you great exposure in selling your program to players around the country.

justin (Madison): given the way the the US and Canada have performed so far in the olympics, what are your feelings on using profesional hockey players over the college kids?
Coach Johnson: The way the tournament is run, the real meaningful games start tomorrow. Step one is to get yourself in the top four in each bracket. Once that is established, Wednesday's crossover games are the most crucial of the tournament. All the records are thrown out the window. I personally, since they started using professionals, I don't like it, just because it is taxing on the players not only within their NHL season, playing more games in a shorter time period, but then to travel and play against teammates becomes real difficult as we've seen early in the tounament. There are a lot of great players in the tournament, but not a lot of great teams. If you are a spectator, though, it is great to watch.

Rich (Chicago): I read somewhere that you were almost cut by Brooks due to the bitter rivalry between the Gophers & Badgers and because your dad and Brooks didn't get along. Was this true or pure hockey gossip?
Coach Johnson: It was pure hockey gossip. Actually, Herb treated me very fairly and, in the early part of our training camp, instilled a lot of confidence in me, because at that time, he indicated I was going to play a big role and have a lot of responsibility on that team.

Joe(Madison): Hey Coach! How do you explain the sucess your team is having this year? It's been fun so far! Good Luck and hopefully you can bring home a Nat'l Championship! By the Way, What was your favorite memory of the 1980 Olympics?
Coach Johnson: We've been able to be consistent throughout the 32 games we have played so far. We talked early in the year about competing hard every night. The team has been consistent, irrelevent of who or where we are playing, the effort has been good just about every night. As for 1980, to pick one memorable monent out of those seven months together would be real diifficult. If you forced me to pick one, it would be the gold medal ceremony after we beat Finland and listening to our national anthem be played.

Boston: What is your opinion on what USA needs to do to field a more comptitive womens and mens team in the future?
Coach Johnson: Any time you are not successful in whatever endeavor you are pursuing, as a group, we have to take a look at why we were not successful, come up with new ideas and strategies to make our program stronger, and put a plan in place in preparing for 2010 in Vancouver.

Mike (Mishawaka, IN): What are some of your memories of you playing days at Wisconsin?
Coach Johnson: For pure entertainment, college hockey is the best ticket available. The energy, the students, the bands and the overall atmosphere of college hockey is very exciting. Whehter it is playing a game at Mariucci Arena, the Kohl Center here in Madison or many of the venues out east, I think, as a former player, you miss those opportunities you had to play on those Friday and Saturday nights, whether it was at home or on the road. My freshman year at Wisconsin, we won the WCHA title, the playoff title and the NCAA Tournament. All of those were very memorable.

Rich -Chicago: Hi Mark- I watched every one of your games at UW since 1977 when I was only 6 years old and you were a freshman. I have a peculiar question that I hope you will answer: during the Julian Barretta (goalie) years via 1977-78, your team did a very unique pre-game ritual where all the players would gather around the net and he would come skating in backwords to the net from the red line while you guys were slapping your stick waiting for him. Who started that? Why only with Barretta? Why hasn't it ever been seen again? Thanks for the memories Mark. Your #10 should be retired as the greatest Badger ever!
Coach Johnson: If you knew Julian, he had not only that superstition, but a laundry list of them in his preparation to play games. His gameday activities definitely created some interesting scenarios. His final one before the puck dropped was the one you are describing, so that is why we did it. It was a superstition for him.

Nick (Madison): do you ever think women's hockey will pass men's in popularity? I personally enjoy watching the women better then the men.
Coach Johnson: It won't ever surpass it, but I guess you can never say never. Because the men's game and the NHL game is so well exposed, with national television coverage and media, it would be very difficult to challenge the popularity of it. But I do agree with you that the women's game is very enjoyable to watch and hopefully our fan base can continue to increase.

HockeyFan (Wisconsin): Mark, Thanks for putting UW Women's Hockey on the map. What were the biggest differences in coaching style for this new team vs the men's team?
Coach Johnson: There aren't a lot of differences when you take out the strength factor. As far as teaching the game, there are a lot of similarities in regards to passing, shooting, stickhandling. The one challenge is that the women don't have the same velocity and shooting ability that boys or men have, so your ability to score goals and create goals has to be a little different.
CSTV.com Moderator: That is all of our time with Coach Johnson.
Coach Johnson: Thanks for having me. I enjoyed it. And thanks for your support of Wisconsin hockey.
CSTV.com Moderator: Join us again next week for another "Tuesday @ The Rink" doubleheader. Check back to find out who our guests will be. See you next week.

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