BY ANDY BAGGOT
MADISON, Wis. — Jeff Sauer was an intensely private man whose boisterous legacy cries out for attention.
When the former Wisconsin men's hockey coach died unexpectedly Thursday at the age of 73, he left behind a series of distinctive achievements that are rare in his profession.
One: Sauer succeeded an icon and found a way to create his own championship legacy.
Bob Johnson was that legend. He built the Badgers into a perennial powerhouse, winning three NCAA titles from 1973 to '81 before Sauer took over in 1982 and produced two national championship-winners of his own.
Two: Sauer left the college game as a coach in 2003, but instead of easing into retirement, he took his generosity and love of hockey to the disabled and excelled on an international stage.
In addition to coaching Team USA in the Deaflympics, he led the American sled hockey team to two Paralympic gold medals.
Three: Sauer nurtured a coaching tree that has some prominent local branches.
One of Sauer's former assistant coaches, Mark Johnson, oversees the four-time NCAA champion women's hockey team at Wisconsin. On the other UW bench is first-year head coach Tony Granato and associate head coaches Don Granato and Mark Osiecki, all of whom played for Sauer and the Badgers.
When the new staff was unveiled last March, Sauer was included in the welcoming video and beamed throughout.
"You could see how proud he was," Tony Granato said.
1310 WIBA in Madison will air a special tribute show to Jeff Sauer at 4pm Saturday.
Photo: Wisconsin Badgers
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