The name John Mariucci was synonymous with the growth of amateur and professional hockey in Minnesota for over 40 years. He was a player, coach, administrator, and promoter who was a major reason why the game spread faster in the Gopher state than anywhere else in the United States.
The native of Eveleth, Minnesota was a standout in hockey and football as a boy. He later excelled in both sports at the University of Minnesota. In 1940 he was named an all-American on the varsity hockey team while helping the gridiron squad win the NCAA national championship.
After graduating from college Mariucci played five NHL seasons with the Chicago Black Hawks. He was a solid defensive forward and combative team leader who served as captain twice. Mariucci didn't back down from any opponent and waged many a fierce battle with rugged "Black Jack" Stewart of the Detroit Red Wings. When his NHL days ended, Mariucci suited up for the St. Louis Flyers of the American Hockey League and the Minneapolis Millers of the United States Hockey League.
As admirable a player as he was, Mariucci's true calling was as a coach and nurturer of talent. He took over as coach of the University of Minnesota hockey team and immediately declined to recruit players from Canada. An important part of this emphasis on home grown talent was a challenge sent out by Mariucci to high schools throughout the state to start their own programs and develop interest in their respective communities. Between 1952 and 1980 the number of high school teams grew from a handful to more than 150.
Mariucci produced several all-Americans at the university and expanded his own horizons by getting involved with international hockey. He coached the US Olympic team to the silver medal at the 1956 Cortina games. In 1967, he returned to the NHL with the expansion Minnesota North Stars as the assistant to general manager, a position he held until his death in 1987.
A charter member of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, Mariucci won the Lester Patrick award in 1977 for contributions to hockey in the United States. The University of Minnesota also paid tribute to him by renaming its ice hockey facility the Mariucci Arena.
He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1985.