skip navigation

US Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 1991

Robert "Robbie" Ftorek
Robert "Badger Bob" Johnson
John Matchefts

1991 United States Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

Inducted as an amateur, international and professional player, Robbie Ftorek grew up and went on to play high school hockey in Needham, MA, where he was twice voted as the Massachusetts High School League MVP, and his teams won consecutive Eastern Massachusetts High School Titles in 1969 and 1970.  Ftorek went on to play on Silver Medal-winning 1972 U.S. Olympic Team, while later playing on the 1976 and 1981 US/Canada Cup Teams.

He made the jump to play pro hockey in 1972, with the Detroit Red Wings, and later in the WHA, where he was the first American developed player to be named league MVP in 1977.  In five seasons, three with Phoenix and two with Cincinnati, the speedy center scored 40 or more goals three times and passed the 100 point mark on four occasions.  Named to the all-league first team twice, in 1979 he scored 59 goals, tying the record with Joe Mullen for most goals scored by an American developed-player in a professional league.

In 1980 Ftorek served as the team Captain at Quebec, then only the second American developed player to hold that title in the NHL.  He later played with the New York Rangers from 1982-85, and then got into coaching, where, in 1987 he took over as the coach of the LA Kings. He later joined the New Jersey Devils coaching staff in 1992 and took over as head coach there in 1998 as well.

1991 United States Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

Minneapolis native Bob Johnson, a graduate of Minneapolis Central High School, went on to play left wing for the Gopher Hockey team from 1954-55 under legendary Coach John Mariucci.  Following a couple of high school coaching stints at both, Warroad, MN and Minneapolis Roosevelt, where he won four City Conference championships in six years, he took over the reins at Colorado College in 1963.  

After several years at C.C., he moved to the University of Wisconsin, where, in a period of 11 years, he led the Badgers to seven NCAA tournaments, winning three championships and one second-place finish.  It was there where the 1977 NCAA Coach of the Year recipient was given the nick-name, “Badger Bob.”

He also led the 1976 U.S. Olympic team to fourth-place finish at Innsbruck, Austria, and coached the 1981, 1984, and 1987 U.S. teams in the Canada Cup as well.  In addition, he coached the 1973, 1974, 1975, and 1981 U.S. National teams.

Beginning in 1982, Johnson coached the NHL’s Calgary Flames for five seasons.  IN 1990, he took over as coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, where in his first season, he led the team, which was led by superstar Mario Lemieux, to Stanley Cup victory over his hometown Minnesota North Stars, four games to two.

A tireless promoter of American hockey, Johnson also served as Executive Director of USA Hockey for a three-year period in the 1980s.  Then in November of 1991, Johnson tragically died of brain cancer at the age of 60. Johnson’s memory lives on forever, however, from his famous phrase which epitomized his love for the game: “It’s a great day for hockey.”

Badger Bob was one of the greatest hockey coaches ever to hail from Minnesota.  He was later inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, in Toronto, in 1992.

1991 United States Hockey Hall of Fame Enshrinee

John Matchefts grew up loving the game of hockey in his hometown of Eveleth, Minnesota.  There, the speedy youngster first learned how to skate by borrowing his big sister’s figure skates.  Then, in 1948, at the age of 16, Matchefts emerged as a high school star for the Eveleth Golden Bears. There, under fellow enshrinee, Coach Cliff Thompson, he quickly became a phenom.  So good was the lightning-quick winger, that he was even invited to play for the 1948 U.S. Olympic team.  While high school league rules prevented him from playing that year, he did later represent his country at the World Championships in 1955, and again in 1956, where he won a silver medal on the Olympic team.

Matchefts was a prep star at Eveleth.  Teaming up with another enshrinee, John Mayasich, he not only led the Golden Bears to three straight undefeated state hockey championships from 1947-49, he also excelled at football and baseball as well.  In fact, he was the first player named to the all-State high school hockey team three times.

From there he decided to attend the University of Michigan, where the two-time All-American and team captain led the Wolverines to three straight NCAA hockey championships, from 1951-53.  Nicknamed “the Fly” because of his amazing speed and maneuverability, Matchefts averaged two points per game, with 57 goals and 74 assists over his college career.

After his collegiate playing days, Matchefts declined the opportunity to play professional hockey, and instead played on the 1955 and 1956 U.S. National and Olympic teams.  From there, he went on to spend more than a decade as a high school hockey coach in Eveleth and Thief River Falls, where he guided several of his teams from both schools to the state’s fabled high school tournament.

Matchefts made the jump to big-time coaching after that, as he later took over behind the bench at Colorado College, from 1966-71, and at the Air Force Academy, from 1972-86.  Among his many honors and accolades, he was named as the WCHA’s Coach of the Year in 1968.