Virgil Johnson was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in October 1974. This honor recognized his commitment to the sport and the talent that supported his career from 1930 to 1952. He was one of the longest serving American defensemen of this early sports era.
The highlight of his career was as a member of the noted 1937-38 Chicago Blackhawks "Cinderella" team (NHL) in the Stanley Cup playoffs. This team featured several home grown American boys, many of whom, like Johnson were from Minnesota. With a combination of luck, skill, and pluck the Hawks skated to victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Johnson played seven of those Stanley Cup games and became the only defenseman in NHL history to get a penalty shot during a Stanley Cup Series.
Born in Minneapolis, Johnson played for the Minneapolis Millers (CHL) for several seasons in the 1930's. But his reputation more significantly rested with the St. Paul Saints (CHL/AHA) for whom he played eight seasons. He was a fixture on defense and was named to the AHA first all-star team in 1942.
During the war years he moved back and forth across the country playing for the Hershey Bears (AHL), Chicago Blackhawks (NHL), Kansas City Americans, and the Cleveland Barons (AHL). He returned to the Chicago Blackhawks for the 1943-44 season, playing all 48 games. He began the 1944-45 season but played only two games before he was sent back to the AHL with the Cleveland Barons.
His career in the late 1940's saw him returning to the Minneapolis Millers (USHL), Minneapolis Jerseys (AAHL) and St. Paul Saints (AAHL). These latter years were also spent coaching, notably for Rochester's fledgling hockey team. Despite press praise that "Virg is better now than he ever was" Johnson retired from the rink in 1952 making him one of the longest serving American players of the first half of the twentieth century.