Hartman: Mayasich a superb hockey player, great friend

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 14, 2014 - 12:12 AM

The legend, 80, will be honored by the Gophers on Friday.

On Friday night, the Gophers will honor the greatest hockey player without a doubt who ever put on the Maroon and Gold uniform in John Mayasich. He not only dominated high school hockey playing for Eveleth, sparking the Golden Bears to four state championships and a 69-0 record in his four years with the varsity, but went on to become one of the best collegiate players in history.

Mayasich, 80, will be on hand for a pregame program and then do a ceremonial puck drop before the Gophers’ game against Michigan.

Mayasich is still the Gophers’ career leading scorer with 144 goals and 298 points in 111 games over his four-year career from 1951-55. That gave Mayasich an astonishing 2.68 points-per-game average.

Still, the reason for the Gophers honoring him Friday isn’t his college career — he already is the only Gophers hockey player to have his jersey retired — but for his illustrious Olympic and international career with Team USA.

He was an eight-time member of the U.S. National Team, still a record, and he won an Olympic silver medal in 1956 and a gold medal in 1960.

Close, personal friend

Mayasich and I got to be close friends while he was with the Gophers. I attended his wedding in Eveleth to one great gal in Carol. And Mayasich’s closest friend on the hockey team was Stanley Hubbard, who Mayasich went to work for as general manager of one of the Hubbard families’ radio stations, a job he held for years.

As an indication of how close we were, I found a letter he wrote to me on Jan. 21, 1957, while he was in the Army. So today I will act the part of Dear Abby, the former columnist who appeared in the Star Tribune and tried to answer readers’ problems, and reprint that letter.

Dear Sid:

It was sure nice hearing from you. I thank you for the help you’ve given me in connection with my decision as to what I’m going to do when I get out of the Army next fall.

I was wondering what type of job this would be at Cargo Carriers Inc. [a branch of Cargill] if I were accepted.

Stan Hubbard wants me to get in over at KSTP, etc., as I told you earlier.

[Then-Gophers sports information director] Otis Dypwick wrote and asked if I were interested in a teaching and coaching position at St. Louis Park, so you can see where I’m still confused as to how to decide.

I guess I just feel I’m not qualified to do anything but teach and coach and that’s why I’m rather undecided when it comes to choosing between coaching and a job in the business world.

I’m quite sure Carol and I are going to have another addition to the family next fall. Unofficial as yet though. Our son is sure getting big. No skates for him this year though.

We leave for Europe Feb. 2nd. Expect to arrive back around March 25th. I believe I’ll be stationed around Boston till I get out in Oct.

I’ll keep you informed as to how we’re doing overseas, etc., and thanks again for helping me like this.

Sincerely, Johnny

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  • Profile of John Mayasich, now 80, one of the most prolific amateur hockey players in Minnesota during his playing days in the 1940's and 50's. He has retired to Eveleth, his hometown of hockey fame. John Mayasich with memorabilia from his Minnesota Gophers hockey team playing days on display at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth.

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