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U.S. Hall of Famers share memories of Herb Brooks

by Mike G. Morreale

DALLAS -- Herb Brooks long has been synonymous with hockey in the United States. The legendary coach lifted the spirits of millions of Americans during the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" while urging his team on to a stunning win against the Soviets and an unlikely gold medal.

It's no wonder the entire hockey community mourned the death of Brooks, who died in a car accident Aug. 11, 2003. But his legacy lives on with the fans and former players privileged to watch or stand by his side.

Such was the case with Lou Lamoriello, Mike Modano and Ed Olczyk, who joined Brooks and 152 other members of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday during an induction ceremony and dinner at the Plaza of the Americas Atrium just outside the entrance to the Dallas Marriott City Center.

Modano won a silver medal under Brooks at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.

"A lot of his speeches before the game were pretty funny. We enjoyed his humor, and you could tell he was a great motivator with the way he spoke. He got excited about the game and how he felt about American hockey and being an American." -- Mike Modano

"A lot of his speeches before the game were pretty funny," Modano said. "We enjoyed his humor, and you could tell he was a great motivator with the way he spoke. He got excited about the game and how he felt about American hockey and being an American."

Modano vividly recalls Brooks entering the locker room wearing his throwback suit and coat. The U.S. defeated Russia 3-2 in the 2002 semifinals before dropping a 5-2 decision to Canada in the gold-medal game.

"He'd come in before the games looking like Kurt Russell [who played Brooks in the movie 'Miracle']," Modano said. "He'd rant and rave about us being Americans and the opportunity and exciting time this would be for us to make an impact on the game and ourselves. Then he'd walk out and we'd look at each other like, 'OK, what's the game plan? What do we do and how do we beat the Russians and Canadians?'

"He kind of left that up to us and we went through some plays. Chris Chelios would get up and talk about what to do on the penalty kill and then we'd meet [Brooks] on the bench.''

As coach at Providence College, Lamoriello remembers the recruiting wars he had with Brooks, who coached at the University of Minnesota.

"My memories of him are that he loved the game," Lamoriello said. "He was a visionary, an emotional guy, a spirited guy and he was a motivator. He could take the criticism if he believed in something that could get done and what he did with that 1980 Olympic team will never be surpassed. He and Jack Riley in the '60s … those were special people."


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It was inevitable that Brooks' name would find its way into conversation at some point during media availability for the inductees prior to the ceremony. Additionally, Lester Patrick Trophy winner Bob Chase-Wallenstein and Wayne Gretzky Award winner Murray Costello also shared their memories of the famed coach.

"Herbie was one of the nicest guys I've ever met," Chase told "When he was cut from the 1960 U.S. Olympic Team, he came to Fort Wayne [Ind.] and worked with the U.S. Select traveling team and that's when I first got to know him. I met him many times after that.

"Mike Eruzione told me that when the movie 'Miracle' opened that he took Herbie's boy to see it. He said Kurt [Russell] should have won an Academy Award for his part because nobody could have ever portrayed Herbie the way Kurt did."'

Costello, who did plenty at the international level to aid the United States and Canada, said he never had the pleasure of meeting Brooks, but was present for the upset of the Russians in Lake Placid, N.Y.

"I never got the opportunity to talk to Herb and I regret that because I never, ever thought he would leave us so early," Costello told "I was there in 1980 and I watched that game. The guy I really liked was [assistant coach] Craig Patrick … I thought he deserved more credit than he got. That's not saying anything against Herb, because he really worked those guys and pulled those strings in the right way to get an emotional performance that, I don't think, will ever be matched."

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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