Herb Brooks, 1937-2003
Herb 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.