Former Johnson hockey coach Lou Cotroneo dies at age 92

Lou Cotroneo, the man known to many in eastside St. Paul simply as “coach”, passed away early Tuesday at the age of 92.

Cotroneo was a legendary figure in the St. Paul hockey community, particularly at Johnson High School, where he was a backup goaltender for the Governors’ state championship team in 1947 and eventually coached in the program for 20 years — during which Johnson made seven state tournament appearances — including 10 years as head coach.

He also served as an assistant principal at Humboldt High School before working for the city of St. Paul.

But he was ever-present throughout St. Paul hockey, from his time serving as a stick boy for the St. Paul Saints minor-league team to officiating in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association to his time as the Wild’s VIP greeter for the first decade of the franchise’s existence.

Former U.S. Senator Norm Coleman nicknamed Cotroneo “the Godfather of St. Paul hockey.”

“At both the amateur and professional level, the sport has been very good to me,” Cotroneo told the Pioneer Press when he stepped away from his position with the Wild in 2009. “Probably better than I deserved.”

Or, perhaps, it was the other way around.

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