Former Rangers head coach Herb Brooks, the man who led Team USA to the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" at Lake Placid, was voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Wednesday.
Brooks was one of two Rangers alumni to be elected to the Hall. Joining him is former Rangers player Dick Duff, who played with the Blueshirts for parts of the 1963-64 and 1964-65 seasons between long stints with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens.
Also entering the Hall of Fame are former Canadiens and Colorado Avalanche goaltender Patrick Roy and longtime Calgary Flames owner Harley Hotchkiss. Brooks and Hotchkiss were inducted in the Builder Category, while Roy and Duff will go into the Hall for their playing accomplishments.
Brooks, who was killed in a 2003 automobile accident at age 66, coached the Rangers for 285 games from 1981 to 1985. He ranks fifth in team history for total games coached and is also fifth in wins with 131. His lifetime record with the Blueshirts was 131-113-41, including trips to the playoffs in 1982, 1983, 1984 and 1985.
In both 1982 and 1983, Brooks' teams advanced to the second round of the playoffs, where they fell in six games. His career playoff coaching record with the Rangers was 12-13. Brooks also coached the Minnesota North Stars, New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins, amassing 219 lifetime wins.
A highly successful coach at the University of Minnesota, Brooks won three NCAA titles with the Gophers from 1974 to 1979. He later was chosen to lead the 1980 U.S. Olympic team, and his collection of college players shocked the world by beating the Soviets at Lake Placid in the medal round and then topping Finland for the gold medal. The team's achievement was considered one of the great sporting moments of the 20th century and was later immortalized in the film Miracle
In 1990, Brooks was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame. He also went on to coach Team USA to a silver medal at Lake Placid in 2002.
Brooks' NHL coaching career began with the Rangers, just over a year after his gold-medal win. Hired by the Blueshirts on June 4, 1981 at age 44, Brooks injected his European-style game into the NHL years before it became the standard.
Taking over a team that had gone 30-36-14 the previous season, Brooks led the Rangers to a 39-27-14 record in his first year as head coach. Two years later, in 1983-84, the Rangers won 40 games under Brooks before falling to the defending Stanley Cup champion Islanders in a thrilling yet heartbreaking best-of-five series.
Duff, the Rangers' other Hall of Famer, had a shorter career with the Blueshirts, playing a total of 43 games in New York. He joined the team at age 28 in a landmark trade with Toronto on Feb. 22, 1964. The deal saw the Leafs send Duff, Arnie Brown, Bob Nevin, Bill Collins and Rod Seiling to the Rangers in exchange for Andy Bathgate and Don McKenney.
By the middle of the following season, Duff had been traded again, this time to Montreal for Bill Hicke on Dec. 22, 1964. In his 43 career Ranger games, Duff had seven goals and 13 assists. His overall NHL career spanned 1,030 games, which saw him score 283 goals and 289 assists. He retired from hockey during the 1971-72 season.
A seven-time NHL All-Star, Duff won six Stanley Cup championships. He later became a Maple Leafs assistant coach and had a two-game stint as Toronto's replacement head coach in 1979-80.