August 12, 2003


YOUR OLYMPIC HERO: HERB BROOKS, 1937-2003: The man most responsible for one of the greatest moments in American sports history has died. Herb Brooks, the coach of the gold medal-winning 1980 US Olympic hockey team, was killed Monday in a car accident on I-35W, just north of Minneapolis. He was 66.
A St. Paul native and lifelong Minnesotan, Brooks had also coached both the University of Minnesota Gophers and the North Stars. He also brought several Minnesotans with him to Lake Placid in 1980, when the team of college-aged amateurs somehow knocked off the professional Soviet team, in what was probably the greatest American Olympic moment since Jesse Owens showed up Hitler at the 1936 Berlin games.
By sheer coincidence, HBO happened last night to broadcast "The Miracle On Ice," a documentary about the victory that was produced last year- and the broadcast had been scheduled beforehand, prior to Brooks' death. I don't know if it's the celebration, the pageantry, or the waving flags, but that's one highlight reel I can never resist watching to the end- even though I was only two years old when the 'Miracle' happened. Last night, of course, what is already an emotionally wrenching sequence of events was made even moreso by the news that had preceded the broadcast by just a few hours. Mike Eruzione, Jim Craig, and other '80 players appeared on television later that night to share their recollections of the man they called coach.
According to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, "the strength of hockey in the United States is a testament to Herb Brooks and the historic Olympic triumph in 1980." And it was only fitting that that team was coached by a man so intimately linked to the "State of Hockey." Herb Brooks will be missed by all who knew him, and all those who remember the glory of that amazing victory.

Posted by Stephen Silver at August 12, 2003 01:26 PM
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