Lou Nanne (born June 2, 1941) is a Canadian-born American former National Hockey League defenceman and general manager. He is a member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame and of the IIHF Hall of Fame.
Early life Edit
Nanne grew up in Ontario where he played hockey with Phil and Tony Esposito. In 1960, he enrolled at the University of Minnesota to play hockey for the Minnesota Gophers while studying business administration. At Minnesota, he would be coached by the legendary John Mariucci and would become one of the biggest stars in American college hockey during the 1960s. He is still the only defenseman to win the league scoring title which he accomplished in the 1962-63 season. In 1967, Nanne became an American citizen which allowed him to play for and captain the 1968 US Olympic hockey team, alongside future Miracle On Ice coach Herb Brooks, which finished 6th at the Winter Olympics in Grenoble, France.
Pro career Edit
Signing as a free agent with the expansion Minnesota North Stars, Nanne started his National Hockey League career in 1968 following the Olympics. He would spend his entire career in Minnesota, playing 635 NHL regular season games for the North Stars through the 1977-78 season. A steady defenseman and sometime forward, he scored 21 goals in 1971–72 but was mostly known for his defensive, penalty killing abilities. Nanne played for U.S. National Team in 1976 and 1977 (years that the North Stars failed to make the Stanley Cup playoffs), participating in the 1976 and 1977 Ice Hockey World Championship tournaments and competing in the inaugural Canada Cup in 1976. Nanne also served as National Team captain or alternate in both years.
Nanne also played for the Rochester Mustangs and Cleveland Barons.
Post career Edit
Nanne is arguably best known for his career as a general manager and coach of the North Stars and for the United States Canada Cup entries. With an infusion of notable players from the merger with the Cleveland Barons and through the draft, Nanne quickly rebuilt the North Stars into a contender after his playing career ended in 1978. The Stars would reach the Stanley Cup finals in 1981, the semifinals in 1984, and would make it to the playoffs seven consecutive seasons (1979-80 - 1985-86). This winning run would see the North Stars average over 35 wins per season, and encompass the North Stars sole 40-win season and six of the organization's ten 35-plus-win seasons. In 1988, following two seasons in which the North Stars finished well below .500 and had consecutive fifth-place finishes in the Norris Division, Nanne resigned from the North Stars citing health reasons. Nanne also served as general manager of the United States team in the 1981, 1984 and 1987 Canada Cup tournaments.
Influence on the "Miracle on Ice" Edit
Nanne, along with USA Hockey's Walter Bush, spearheaded the campaign to have Brooks named head coach of the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team leading up to the 1980 Winter Games. Nanne, who had just been named the GM of the Minnesota North Stars, offered Brooks Minnesota's head coaching job—but Brooks declined, saying that it was instead his goal to coach the Olympic team. After legendary Boston University coach Jack Parker turned down the head coach position of Team USA, Nanne and Bush became involved in the Olympic Team selection process and pushed for Brooks to be named coach. Brooks did later coach under Nanne in Minnesota during the 1987-88 NHL season, but was fired along with Nanne following a 19-48-13 season.
Personal life Edit
Nanne has been the color commentator for the Minnesota State High School Boys Hockey tournament since 1964, a total of 51 years. His son, Marty Nanne (born October 16, 1967), was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the eighth round of the 1986 NHL Entry Draft.Nanne has three grandsons playing junior ice hockey or high school hockey. One, also named Lou, played for Edina High School before passing up his senior season to play for the Penticton Vees. He had signed to play hockey for the University of Minnesota, but decommitted and instead attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in 2012. Tyler Nanne, who was drafted by the New York Rangers in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, was a member of the Edina High School team that won consecutive Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournaments in 2013 and 2014, and recently committed to play hockey at Ohio State University.Nanne's granddaughter, Erin, works for the Minnesota Wild. Their cousin Vinny Lettieri, whose father Tino, was a goalie for the 1986 Canadian World Cup soccer team, played for Minnetonka High School before joining the Lincoln Stars and is now a member of the University of Minnesota Men's Ice Hockey Team. Nanne opened "Lou Nanne's Steakhouse" in Edina, MN in March 2016.