St. Paul, MN – September 24, 2020 – Richfield native Lynn Olson, a longtime advocate for girls and women’s hockey at all levels, will receive the 2020 Lester Patrick Trophy for outstanding service to hockey in the United States. Earlier today, the National Hockey League announced Olson as the recipient of the award, which is one of the most prestigious in hockey. Olson becomes the fourth consecutive Minnesota native to be honored with the award, following Dr. Jack Blatherwick (2019), Jim Johansson (2018) and Peter Lindberg (2017).
“It is difficult to imagine that there is anyone whose body of work better fits the description of ‘outstanding service to hockey in the United States,’ than Lynn Olson,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “Her passion for our game, her determination that it be as available and welcoming to girls and women as to boys and men, and her relentless pursuit of that goal have been transformative. That Minnesota truly has become, for everyone, the State of Hockey, is a credit to Lynn Olson and we are delighted to present the prestigious Lester Patrick Trophy to such a deserving recipient.”
In 1980, after playing broomball for years, Lynn joined a women’s hockey team and continued to play for 20 years. The Minnesota Women's Hockey League (now WHAM) was comprised of 12 teams in 2 divisions. In 1984, Lynn, who worked as a Paralegal, was asked to draft Articles, Bylaws and Operating Rules for WHAM. They elected her President and in 1985 she met with the Minnesota Amateur Hockey Association (MAHA, later renamed Minnesota Hockey) and requested the association be accepted as an affiliate. In 1986, MAHA accepted WHAM and Lynn was elected Women's Hockey Director, a position she held until 2007.
WHAM hosted the USA Hockey Girls & Women’s National Championships in 1988. In order to provide teams from MN in the 15U and 19U age classifications, Lynn started the Minnesota Thoroughbred girls hockey organization in 1987. Lynn was elected in 1989 to the position of Girls/Women's Section Director, the first woman on the USA Hockey Board of Directors. She represented the girls/women from Minnkota District (MN, ND and SD) on the Section until 2010.
In 1990, as Girls/Women’s Director, she assisted USA Hockey in the establishment of development camp programs for females and was Camp Director for USA Hockey Girls' Development Camps for the first two years. Lynn organized the girls’ camp evaluation process in 1990 for Minnkota and ran the development program for over 12 years. Lynn served as GM from 1990-1994 for the USA Hockey Women’s National Team which won 3 silver medals in the IIHF Women's World Championships in Canada, Finland and Lake Placid.
After many years of promoting girls’ hockey at the youth level, Lynn began attending MN State High School League meetings and speaking at high schools. The MSHSL sanctioned girl’s hockey as a varsity sport in 1994. Lynn was elected as the Executive Secretary of the MN Girls’ High School Hockey Coaches Assn. and held that position from 1994-1997. The Academy of Holy Angels, attended by her daughters, Lisa and Becky, agreed to start a girls’ hockey program. Lynn was hired as the first Head Coach and the AHA team participated in the first sanctioned girls’ game in MSHSL history. AHA would go on to win the Girls’ Class A Championship 10 years later and her daughters would head to St. Cloud State University and play on the Division I hockey team as co-captains.
In 1992 Lynn received the President's Award from Minnesota Hockey for her work in developing girls/women’s programs in the state. In 2001 Lynn was recognized as a Special Merit Award Winner by the National Girls and
Women in Sports-Minnesota. The Award is presented to individuals who exemplify the highest levels of commitment to breaking barriers for girls and women in sport. In 2013, she was honored with Minnesota Hockey’s Don Clark Award, given to an individual who over a period of many years has been dedicated to the grassroots growth and development of youth hockey in Minnesota.
“Lynn Olson is without peer when it comes to determination and work ethic in championing girls and women’s hockey,” said Minnesota Hockey president, Steve Oleheiser. “Minnesota Hockey is a better organization due to her contributions, and girls and women’s hockey in Minnesota is the best it has ever been thanks to Lynn Olson.”
Minnesota Hockey, a USA Hockey affiliate, is the governing body of youth hockey in Minnesota. With over 70,000 registered players and coaches, it is the largest state governing body for hockey in the United States.