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83-Steelers-43
06-29-2006, 08:27 AM
Brooks headed to Hockey Hall of Fame
Head of Miracle on Ice also coached Penguins
Thursday, June 29, 2006

By Chuck Finder, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


The late Herb Brooks, who directed the most stunning upset in hockey history -- a bunch of college boys beating the Big Red Machine that was the Soviet Union on ice -- was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame yesterday.

"It's well deserved, and well beyond its time," Mike Eruzione said yesterday between flights around the country as one of America's leading motivational speakers, which is what scoring the winning goal against the Russians did for him in that 1980 Miracle on Ice. "But let's not be negative. He got in, and that's great.


"It's really appropriate, what he meant not only to USA Hockey, but as the ambassador he's been for the game, his coaching. ... He qualified in every area."

Yesterday, almost 80 days short of three years since his death in an automobile accident in his native Minnesota, Brooks, who much later served the Penguins in several capacities including coach, was elected to the Toronto-based Hockey Hall in the Builder's Category reserved for coaches, general managers and other officials. He was picked by a selection committee consisting almost entirely of Canadian-born NHL players, coaches, administrators and media, among them former Penguins coach and front-office type Scotty Bowman. It was basically the final honor eluding Brooks, who spent the final eight hockey seasons of his life with that club.

"It's great for his legacy to get the one thing he didn't have," Eruzione said.

"It's finally here," continued Dan Brooks, Herb's son. He was in Mankato, Minn., at a meeting for securities company RBC Dain Rauscher when his mother, Patti, telephoned with the news that friend and fellow Minnesota hockey legend Lou Nanne had been predicting for so long. "Louie for the last three years has been saying, 'Your dad is going to get into the Hall of Fame.' Deep down, we were hoping for it. It's special, especially being an American. The Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto really is a Canadian institution, and to be honored by his good friends up north is so gratifying. If he were alive, he would be so honored."

Joining Brooks in this Builder's Category class was former NHL chairman of the board Harley Hotchkiss. They will be enshrined Nov. 13 at the Hall along with longtime Montreal and Colorado goaltender Patrick Roy plus Dick Duff, a winger with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Brooks, elected in 1990 to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, also coached the New York Rangers, New Jersey Devils and Minnesota North Stars in the NHL and came back for a 2002 Olympics turn with the U.S. team in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Yet it was that 1980 gold-medal victory in Lake Placid -- alongside assistant Craig Patrick, later his boss as Penguins general manager -- that gripped an America in the throes of an Iranian hostage situation, oil crisis and Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. In athletic terms alone, that performance transformed hockey into a sport that American kids began to play in record numbers.

"Herb's missed a lot of good things," Eruzione mused. "His portrayal in [the movie] 'Miracle.' Now this Hall of Fame induction."

"That's the neat thing: He's going to be in there with Craig and some other guys," added Dan Brooks. "He'd have been thrilled. He'd have been thrilled."

In addition to Patrick and Bowman, other former Penguins in the Hockey Hall include: Mario Lemieux, Bob Johnson, Joe Mullen, Larry Murphy, Paul Coffey, Bryan Trottier, Andy Bathgate, Leo Boivin, Tim Horton and Red Kelly. Tony Esposito and Glen Sather put in brief stints with the Penguins, but not in the player and manager categories, respectively, in which they were enshrined.

Ex-Penguins goaltender Tom Barrasso along with former NHL stars Dino Ciccarelli, Doug Gilmour, Mike Richter and Pavel Bure were among the notable recent retirees eligible for player selection.

Lemieux said in a statement released by the Penguins last night: "On behalf of the entire Pittsburgh Penguins organization, I want to congratulate the Brooks family on this prestigious honor for Herb. Herb's passion and dedication to the growth of hockey in the United States was second to none. He was a valued member of the Penguins organization, and we are thrilled and proud that he has been bestowed this tremendous honor."

"He showed that North Americans could play hockey that was beautiful to watch, something poetic ... free-flowing," said Penguins announcer Paul Steigerwald, echoing a sentiment that Brooks' style resembled what the NHL played this past season. "He's truly a builder."

And pro-U.S.

Dan Brooks said the induction ceremony will mark his first trip to Toronto. Eruzione laughed at that notion. "That's typical Herb," he said. "They vacationed in American places."

83-Steelers-43
06-29-2006, 08:29 AM
All I have to say......RIP Herb, you are missed and it's about freakin' time. I have my own beliefs on why it took this long, but unfortunately he is not here to witness his own induction.