Mike Johnston (ice hockey)

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Mike Johnston
Mike Johnston 2014-12-13 2.JPG
Born (1957-02-19) February 19, 1957 (age 59)
Dartmouth, NS, CAN
Previous team(s) Portland Winterhawks
Pittsburgh Penguins
Vancouver Canucks
Los Angeles Kings
UNB Varsity Reds
Calgary Dinos
Years as a coach 1980–Present
Years as an NHL coach 2014–2015

Mike Johnston (born February 19, 1957) is the head coach and general manager of the Portland Winterhawks hockey team of the Western Hockey League. He previously coached the Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL from 2014-15. He was relieved of his duties on December 12, 2015. He was replaced by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL) Head Coach Mike Sullivan. Johnston performed duties as the coach and general manager of the Winterhawks previously from 2008 to 2014, before taking over as coach of the Penguins for the 2014-15 NHL season. Before his tenure with Portland, he was an assistant coach for the Los Angeles Kings and the Vancouver Canucks.[1]

Playing and Coaching Career[edit]

Johnston played hockey for Brandon University and Acadia University and then became a coach at the age of 23. He at first coached Augustana University College in Alberta and then was an assistant coach for the Calgary Dinos of the CWUAA. In 1989 he took over as head coach of the UNB Varsity Reds of the AUS, a job that lasted until 1994.

In 1994 he became general manager and associate coach of the Canadian national men's hockey team. In 1998 he became the head coach for one season. He then spent six seasons as, at first, an assistant coach and then as an associate coach with the Vancouver Canucks. After that he was an associate coach of the Los Angeles Kings.[2] He was the coach and general manager of the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL from 2008-2014 where he amassed a record of 231-114-10-10, landing him second on the Winterhawks' all-time wins list.[3] Johnston returned to the Winterhawks for the 2016-17 season.

Johnston also has extensive experience in international play. He won gold medals at the 1997 and the 2007 World Hockey Championship. He also won silver in 1996 and bronze in 1995. In 1994 and 1995 Johnston's teams won gold at the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.


After an investigation by the Canadian Hockey League, Johnston was suspended by the Western Hockey League for the duration of the 2012–13 WHL season, after it was revealed he offered improper player benefits and committed various recruitment violations over a four-year period. Some of the noted improper benefits Johnston offered to Winterhawk players included paying for their families to come to Portland multiple times during the season by subsidizing travel costs to the city, financing private summer training programs and providing cellular telephones to the team captains. As a result of the violations, Johnston was forced to hand over his general manager and head coaching positions to assistant coach Travis Green, who would guide the club to the Ed Chynoweth Cup. As a punishment for violating league rules, the team was forced to forfeit the first five rounds of the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft, along with their first round draft picks until 2017. The investigation into Johnston's conduct came months after the Ontario Hockey League's Windsor Spitfires were fined for improper player benefits and recruitment violations. Johnston's suspension was lifted at the end of the season.[4]

NHL Coaching record[edit]

Team Year Regular season Post season
G W L OTL Pts Finish Result
PIT 2014–15 82 43 27 12 98 4th in Metropolitan Lost in First Round (NYR)
PIT 2015–16 28 15 10 3 33 (fired)
Total 110 58 37 15 131


  1. ^ "Mike Johnston Named Head Coach". Pittsburgh Penguins. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  2. ^ "Mike Johnston profile at HockeyDB.com". HockeyDB.com. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Mike Johnston By The Numbers". Portland Winterhawks. Retrieved June 25, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Winterhawks punished for violations". foxsports.com. Retrieved July 14, 2014. 
Preceded by
Dan Bylsma
Head coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins
Succeeded by
Mike Sullivan