John Mariucci

John Mariucci is regarded as "The Godfather of Minnesota Hockey". He played a major role in establishing the successful Minnesota high school program, and leading the University of Minnesota hockey team to national prominence. He also inspired a lot of NHL coaches like Herb Brooks, Bob Johnson, Glen Sonmor and Lou Nanne.

Lou Nanne was coached by Mariucci and remembered him as a very tough but fair coach.

"As a coach he was very tough and demanded a lot, but he was always fair. I learned a lot from him."

Herb Brooks had about the same recollection of John.

"As a coach he put fear of the Lord in everyone. He was mean and ornery and a stickler for details, but always fair and always a winner."

In 1952 when his hockey playing career was over John went on to coach the University of Minnesota for 14 seasons, When he left in 1966 he had an excellent record of 215-148-18.

He also coached the United States Olympic hockey team in 1956 in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. Mariucci took a lot of heat for loading up his Olympic team with 11 Minnesotans, but he obviously knew what he was doing as Team USA came home with the silver medal.

Mariucci was born in Eveleth, Minnesota on May 8, 1916. He played his early hockey, as well as football, for the University of Minnesota where he enjoyed an All-American season as a Minnesota senior in 1940. He debuted in the NHL for the Chicago Blackhawks as a solidly built 5'11" 200 Ibs defenseman during the 1940-41 season. At that time American born players in the NHL were very rare.

Mariucci remembered how it was in the beginning.

"When I entered the NHL I was a little freak. I took a lot of ribbing. I always played hard, but it took a couple of rough checks and punches in the nose to really get some respect from the older guys."

John's face was a good remainder of how his "battle for respect" had looked like. Herb Brooks jokingly once said: "Just looking at John's face probably helped inspire the rule requiring face masks in modern day youth hockey."

Mariucci's NHL career spanned over five seasons, all with Chicago. He played between 1940-42 and 45-48 in the windy city. He also played for the Coast Guard Cutters in the EHL where he was an All-Star. He also played for St. Louis Flyers (AHA), Minneapolis Millers (USHL) and the St. Paul Saints (USHL) until 1952. Though short, he was a feared physical defenseman who put in a workmanlike effort. But coaching was his true calling.

Mariucci hockey work earned him the Lester Patrick Trophy in 1977 given to him for outstanding service to hockey in the United States. Mariucci is also in both the Hockey Hall of Fame and United States Hockey Hall of Fame.

John Mariucci passed away in 1987.


tomb 8:35 AM  

I met Maroosh on several occasions in his later years. More a legend in Minnesota than Chicago. The arena at the University of Minnesota bears his name. His name spoken with reverence befitting a deity.

JKidd 8:18 AM  

Never got the honor to meet the legend. But, from everything that I've found, in living here in Minnesota, at the U and around hockey circles, the man no doubt is more of a god around here. Having been through the HS ranks, junior ranks, and college ranks, I definitely owe a lot to him, for paving the path for my career.

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