Berglund honoured by hall induction

Dan Falloon

Some impressive names will be entering the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame this year.
These ones will be well-known to hockey fans across North America: Jeremy Roenick, who scored more than 500 goals, as well as the Hatcher brothers, Kevin and Derian, who each played more than 1,000 games as bruising defencemen.
However, a man who operated behind the scenes, Art Berglund, will be inducted alongside them in a ceremony Oct. 21 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, N.Y.
The 69-year-old Fort Frances native helped to lay the groundwork for USA Hockey to rise from an afterthought to a powerhouse on the international stage, including having a hand in the 1980 U.S. Olympic team that pulled off the “Miracle on Ice”—knocking off a heavily-favoured team from the former Soviet Union en route to capturing the gold medal on home ice in Lake Placid, N.Y.
“It was quite an honour,” Berglund said of his induction, which was announced last week.
“I spent a lot of my years trying to improve hockey in America, and I think we made some great strides,” he noted.
“I’m very honoured to be recognized.”
The Fort High graduate, who has been witness to some impressive teams in his day, specifically remembered watching the Fort Frances Canadians—the 1952 Allan Cup champions.
Berglund also dabbled in other sports. He was a member of the Fort High curling team that won a Manitoba provincial championship and competed at the nationals in P.E.I., and also was on the Colorado College golf team that attended the 1963 NCAA tournament.
Berglund recalled that in some of his earlier years with USA Hockey, it was a small-scale organization. For instance, he and legendary coach Bob Johnson planned out the USA’s 1976 Olympic team in Johnson’s garage in Madison, Wis.
Today, the organization boasts well over half-a-million athletes—and Berglund has been along for the ride as the nation rose to a competitive level on the international hockey stage.
“It was a shoebox operation, I called it,” Berglund kidded. “Now we’ve got about 600,000 players and coaches registered with USA Hockey.
“The game has grown.”
Berglund served as director of player personnel for three Olympic teams, including the 2002 silver-medallists at Salt Lake City, but his Olympic experience began with that 1976 squad.
In total, Berglund was the general manager for eight world junior hockey teams, including the bronze-medal winners in 1986, and also was the GM for five national teams in the late 1980s.
Those contributions helped boost the game in America—and, in turn, the up-and-coming players have responded.
The U.S. currently holds the under-20, under-18, and under-17 world titles, and the Olympic team took the Canadians to overtime of the gold-medal game in Vancouver back in February.
Berglund is convinced the U.S. is on the world hockey scene to stay as players from outside the traditional hockey hotspots are starting to make an impact.
Just last month, two Californians were taken in the first round of the NHL entry draft in L.A. while the first Floridian was drafted at the same event.
“What’s comforting is that we’re there now. We don’t have to expect miracles anymore,” Berglund enthused.
“We’ve got fine hockey players coming not just from Minnesota, Michigan, and Massachusetts, but from California, Texas, Arizona, Florida,” he noted.
Berglund has had a number of special moments as a part of USA Hockey, specifically citing the “Miracle on Ice,” the Olympic silver medal in Salt Lake City in 2002, and winning the World Cup of Hockey in 1996 as some of his most cherished.
“When you’re involved for five decades, there’s a lot of wonderful opportunities,” he remarked.
Hall of Fame inductions are nothing new to Berglund, who already has made his way into the Northwestern Ontario Hall of Fame in Thunder Bay, the Colorado College Athletic Hall of Fame, the Colorado Springs Sports Hall of Fame, and the IIHF Hall of Fame, which is headquartered in the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
Berglund also was proud to say he is the sixth Borderland product in the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, noting Larry Ross, Mike Curran, Dick Dougherty, Tim Sheehy, and Keith “Huffer” Christiansen also have been enshrined.
Curran, Sheehy, and Christiansen all were members of the 1972 U.S. Olympic team that won silver in Sapporo, Japan.
“It’s a pretty good representation for hockey in Borderland,” Berglund enthused.
“I’m very proud to be from Fort Frances and the Borderland area, and be selected into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame,” he added.
Dr. V. George Nagobads rounds out the list of inductees into this year’s U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
Although the Hall of Fame itself is located in Eveleth, Mn., the induction ceremony has been held in locations across the country since USA Hockey took responsibility for the event in 2007.
Grand Forks, N.D., Denver, and Boston have hosted the event previously.