Miracle on Ice coach Herb Brooks headed to the Hall of Fame, along with Patrick Roy

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Brooks earns well-deserved -
if somewhat delayed - Hall call

By Shawn P. Roarke
NHL.com Senior Writer | June 29, 2006
Sometimes it is better late than never.
That is certainly the case with Herb Brooks' induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Wednesday -- a long overdue honor for the legendary coach who was much more than a mere tactician and taskmaster.
Brooks was part of a four-man class named to the Hall in Wednesday's induction announcement. He is joined by Harley Hotchkiss, chairman of the NHL board of governors, in the builders' category. On the players' side, goalie Patrick Roy, in his first year of eligibility, and old-timer Dick Duff, 70, were selected as honored members of the Hall of Fame.
Roy, Hotchkiss and Duff will be on hand for the gala induction ceremony Nov. 13 in Toronto. Brooks, however, will not be present. He died three years ago in an automobile accident while driving to the airport from a charity fundraiser in his native Minnesota for the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.
Many would argue that Brooks, who thrived in the spotlight, deserved this honor many years ago. To many, he is the face of American hockey for his part in crafting the "Miracle on Ice" 1980 Olympic gold medal victory by Team USA at Lake Placid, N.Y.


That Olympic performance, by a rag-tag collection of college amateurs, was highlighted by the Americans' upset of the powerful Soviet Union in the medal-round portion of the tournament. At the time, the Russian side -- made up of older, more experienced, quasi-professionals -- was thought to be invincible.
But, Brooks believed the powerful Russians could be beaten. And, more importantly, he convinced his players as well.
Despite that seminal moment's legacy as a "miracle" -- complete with a recent big-budget movie treatment by Disney -- Brooks never bought into the divine connotations of what his boys accomplished in the winter of 1980.
Dan Brooks, Herb's son, grew up with the 1980 Olympic victory as a constant in his life. It was one of the things that defined his father and it was an obvious source of pride for the entire family. Needless to say, it was discussed more than once in the Brooks' household.
"He always told me it really wasn't a miracle," Dan said. "It was hard work. It was 10 months of blood, sweat and tears, of 20 guys working their tails off."
And that, more than one unforgettable victory, was what Herb Brooks was all about.
Brooks was about working his tail off, about bleeding and sweating and crying over what he believed to be right. He did it with the 1980 Olympic team. He did it again in 2002, when he guided the Americans to a silver medal. He did it during a college coaching career at the University of Minnesota and he did it during four NHL coaching stops.
He was a man consumed by passion for the game, a passion any Hall of Fame-worthy candidate must have. He was passionate about the ability of Americans to play a game that was, at the time, the stranglehold of Canadians at the professional level and a bastion of Eastern European countries at the amateur level.

"He felt the U.S. player could compete at all levels of hockey, especially the NHL," said Dan Brooks.
Brooks made that belief a reality, starting with the 1980 Olympic team. The gold-medal win by the Americans not only opened the NHL doors to the often ignored American college player, but it also spawned a whole new generation of American players that have come to not only play in the NHL, but often star at that level.
To see how far-reaching Brooks' influence was on the NHL game, one need to look only at the sport's Draft history.
In 1979, the year before Brooks helped shock the hockey establishment at Lake Placid, only 10 Americans were selected in that year's NHL Entry Draft. This year, when the NHL held its Entry Draft last week in Vancouver, 10 Americans were selected in the first round alone, including No. 1 overall pick Erik Johnson -- ironically hailing from Minnesota.
"I know he'd be very proud of the advancements American hockey has made," Dan said.
Brooks, as much as anybody, made those advancements a reality.
Wednesday, he was rewarded for that influence with a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame. It is an honor whose lateness can not detract from its significance.
"I just wish my father was still alive to enjoy this moment," Dan said. "I know he's looking down and is very proud of this honor."
http://www.nhl.com/features/insider/brooks_hhof062906.html

Absolutely fantastic day for US hockey and the sport in general with the announcement that Herb Brooks will posthumously join the Hoceky Hall of Fame as a coach. Very few men have been able to do what he had done for the sport. He was also a winner at every level he coached. Three NCAA mens National Championship titles with the University of Minnesota, six of his seven NHL teams made the playoffs, a silver medal for the mens team in Salt Lake City in 2002, and of course, the shocking gold medal at the Lake Placid games in 1980.

Also joining Brooks in the Hall this year is Patrick Roy, and it certainly is well deserved for him as well. He was the one no-brainer to get elected this year as he is agruably the greatest goaltender to ever play, and this was his first year of eligibility. Harley Hotchkiss will also be enshrined in the builder category, and Richard Duff (6 Stanley Cups, 7 time all star) also gets the honor.

Thanks to Herb Brooks, for orchestrating one of the best moments in American sports history :thumbup:
 

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