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Herb Brooks, 1937-2003

gherb.jpgHerb Brooks, who coached the U.S. hockey team to the "Miracle on Ice" victory over the Soviet Union at the 1980 Olympics, died Monday in a car wreck. He was 66.

Brooks, who was elected to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990, coached the New York Rangers from 81-85. When he left the Rangers he went on to coach the North Stars, Devils and Penguins and ended his coaching career with a mere .475 winning percentage.

Despite his mediocre coaching record, he was admired and respected by many and often described as a great motivator. In 2002, he received the Lester Patrick award Lester Patrick Award for outstanding service to hockey after coaching the U.S. team to a silver medal in the Olympics.

A Brooks story:

One of coach Herb Brooks's goals before the Olympics was to "break down the Soviets to mortals." He told his players that the great Boris Mikhailov looked like Stan Laurel of the comedy team Laurel and Hardy. He hoped his players would stop looking at Mikhailov as if he was hockey's Zeus.

"You can beat Stan Laurel, can't you?" Brooks would ask.

Even if he had won a Stanley Cup or two, Brooks would always be known for coaching one of the greatest hockey games ever played and in the eyes of some, the greatest moment in sports.

Like Bucky Dent's home run in Fenway in 1978, or Villanova's upset over Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA championship game, the 1980 Olympic win over Russia during the height of the cold war (the U.S. team then went on to beat Finland for the gold medal) is of those sports memories that will stay with me forever and Herb Brooks will always be a huge part of that memory.

So long, Herb and thanks for those memories.

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Comments

Sheesh. I have seen no news today, so I had no idea.

The "Miracle On Ice" is one of those moments that, for me, is indelibly burned into my memory. I remember watching the Olympic hockey games with my dad (who had taken me to see the Atlanta Flames as a little, little girl), and understanding only a part of my father's sheer joy when we won that game. He and I danced around the living room together, crying and laughing at the same time.

"We won! We won!" We sure did win, didn't we?

RIP, Herb.

That brings back some memories, some good - see above - and some not so good....

I know what hell is going to be like. I'm going to spend eternity in junior high school (you'd think that would be enough), and the Fishsticks will win the Cup every year, beating the Rangers in the playoffs every year. I've been there, see.

I remember the night well. One of my buddies had a kegger at his house to watch these young upstarts going against the evil empire (Actually, we didn’t know that it was the evil empire until Reagan told us a couple years later, but we did feel this Darth Vader presence when the USSR team took the rink).

Living in Northern Virginia (note that “northern” is capitalized, as most of us during this period, and for all I know, now, believe that this area should be a separate state), we knew very little about hockey, because we only had a minor league team called the Capitols at the time (Caps fans: Note that I’m talking about an incident over 20 years ago and in no way reflect on the fine franchise the nation’s capital has now.....ALSO, we didn't have Michele either!)

We all vowed to not listen to the radio on the way to the party. (For some unknown reason the IOC decided that the US/USSR game shouldn’t be played during primetime). Don’t forget that this was before the age of cable network news and the internet (Heck, the high school computer used punch cards!!).

The time arrived, the game was on…. one snide person came in during the third period to state that he just heard who won the game. Two pink bellies later, he recanted his story. With just a few minutes left in the game (less that 3?), a commercial break occurred. At the end of this interruption came the usual 11:00 news teaser. To the horror of everyone in the US capital area, the b*tch announced that, “as we all know”, the US had beaten the Russians in hockey!!!

I loved the celebration after the game, but I’ll never forgive the news chick for ruining what could be the most exciting 2 mins of sports anticipation in my life.

I feel so sad. The 1980 Olympics is a huge part of my childhood memories, and I haven't stopped watching hockey since. That's thanks to Herb and the spirit and will to win he instilled in his players. He turned a bunch of college kids into champions and in the process gave our Country a much needed shot in the arm. I'm going to dig out my 1980 Oylmpics book. I kept the scores for many of the events with my mom.

Check in at http://www.kqrs.com and go to the stream for the KQ Morning Show. After about 11:00 this morning, they'll start streaming the August 12th morning show. A lot of talk about Herbie.

Guys are calling in like crazy. Lots of good stories. They also talked to Lou Nanni, former GM of the Northstars.

People are building an impromptu memorial on the spot where Herb died. I-35 is having traffic problems because of it.

Herb Brooks means a lot to Minnesota.

I was actually at a hockey game when the Miracle happened. In Iowa, at a USHL game, the Des Moines Buccanneers vs. somebody. We knew the US & Russians were playing, but no one was following it because we all assumed our guys would get crushed. But during the second half the officials called a timeout and the announcer said: "We have news from Lake Placid, New York: The American hockey team has beaten the Russians . . ." and I have no idea what he might have said after that because the coliseum erupted. The cheering went on for what seemed like an hour, and the players on the ice were jumping around and hugging eachother (even players from opposing teams).

I've never experienced anything like that again. Unbelievable.

As a Penguin fan I appreciate the job he did with a team that is notoriously tough on coaches (good luck Edzo).

Let's face it, though, the Miracle On Ice is IMO the single most important sporting event in US history, the symbolism being every bit as important as the win itself. I was 9 at the time and it is seared into my brain like it happened yesterday, and made clearer with a little help from ESPN Classic.

In the words of Al Michaels, "Do you believe in miracles? YES!"

God bless Herbie.

I will never forget the 1980 game. I was 13, my dad and I were driving to get some take out fish, and had the game on the radio. We knew the Americans were staying with the Soviets by the time we got home, but didn't know the outcome. We then watched the delayed game, and like JFH, we had a moron local newscaster break in during the game, and announce to us all that the US had shocked the Soviets (this was in Milwaukee). I now live in MN, and the State of Hockey is fairly devastated. To get an idea of what hockey means here, Herbie once said the greatest moment of his life was not the 1980 game, but when a high school team he coached won the state tournament. Maybe it's hyperbole, but I tend to credit the 1980 game with at least beginning to end the Vietnam/Watergate/Carter-era malaise that affected the US. This type of victory will not be duplicated in modern Olympics. Sorry, I could go on and on..(already did).

Growing up in Minnesota as I did, I remember that Herb Brooks occupied a spot at the right hand of God. He did more with less than perhaps any hockey coach in history. Vaya con Dios....

about herb brooks, he was a great guy and he was a good look'n guy. in the movie "Miracle", he so well that i could cry and so sad because he lived in it and he never seen it, but now he can see it now because he's in heavin right now.
god bless herb brooks.

Just got back from seeing "Miracle". In 1980 when the game took place, I was actually in Canada (Sarnia, Ontario) playing hockey. My team and I sat in the Drawbridge Inn watching the game on TV and just being amazed! We were on a flight back home when the team won the gold. We nearly crashed the plane in our celebration I think. As I sat there in the theater it all came back like it happened yesterday. As I sit here now, there is a 1980 Northland Official USA Olympic Team hockey stick, Broten pattern, hanging on my wall. What great memories. A signature moment in sports, and one that I thoroughly enjoyed sharing with my 13 year old daughter tonight. Coach Brooks was superb motivator. God rest him.


I just got back from "miracle". I was 5 years old when this game took place. i really didnt know too much about herb brooks before this movie took place, but one of my favorite parts in the movie was when they had beat the russians and herb was on the bench and he looked over at the russian coach and he just nodded his head. when most of us would probably want to shove it back in their faces herb was the opposite. herb brooks was a humble man. i absolutely loved this movie!