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  1. #1
    Pope Of Greenwich Village SuckaInA3Piece's Avatar
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    Default Remembering "The Miracle"

    Brooks was humble hero

    The legendary coach didn't realize the impact of the Miracle on Ice, his wife Patti says.

    BY BRUCE BROTHERS

    Pioneer Press

    Herb Brooks never really grasped the magnitude of what he and a collection of college boys accomplished 25 years ago, Patti Brooks said last week, and he most likely never would have wanted to have the arena where it took place named for him.

    When the 1980 Olympic hockey team's Miracle on Ice gold-medal performance was selected the sports event of the 20th century, Herb "was almost incredulous," she recalled. "He just kept repeating that he could not believe that. He was really humble about most things, but I remember he was just so shocked at that one. I don't think he ever understood what it meant to people."

    Patti Brooks, 63, who will be joined by her two children when the Lake Placid, N.Y., Arena is renamed for Herb on Wednesday, said her husband wasn't much for ceremony or adulation, either.

    "I think it's just an honor, but I don't know what Herbie would think of it," she said. "He didn't like all that. Like having a street named for him in St. Cloud, that wasn't his way."

    The tribute in Lake Placid is typical of an outpouring of affection for Herb Brooks, a groundswell that has hardly slowed since his sudden death in a car accident on Aug. 11, 2003.

    It's a bit surprising but also confirmation, Patti said with a laugh. "I didn't make such a bad choice; everybody else likes him, too."

    If awards were issued for sense of humor, Patti Brooks would wear a gold medal around her neck.

    She jokes about how Herb, who loved cutting the grass during the heat of summer while she preferred air-conditioned comfort indoors, laughed at her from above as she sweated uncomfortably through two sweltering days of services after his death. She also jokes about her first trip in 25 years to Lake Placid and how instead of dispatching a van to Albany, N.Y., to fetch her and her kids on Wednesday, "You'd think they'd send a big stretch limo, don't you?"

    She's looking forward to spending time in Lake Placid with son Danny and daughter Kelly Paradise, Patti said, because of the memories that are never far from the surface it will trigger.

    "It seems like yesterday," she said, "and it seems like a hundred years ago."

    The presence of Herb Brooks remains undiminished in Patti's life. An example: She produced a recent letter from a professor at King's College in Pennsylvania describing a course plan that will "focus on the work of your late husband, who taught all of us the meaning of perseverance, industry, patriotism and love of family."

    Then she pulled out a 22-page manuscript of fact and fiction about Herb sent to her the other day by the family of the 11-year-old Maplewood boy who wrote it.

    "Actually, it was 110 pages and they cut it down to 22 pages," she said with a laugh. "I get this kind of stuff all the time."

    Despite a forceful personality and independent nature, Patti will forever be recognized as Mrs. Herb Brooks. Sometimes, something catches her a bit off guard. When she went to lunch recently at the St. Paul Grill, "there was his picture, looking down on me," she said with a laugh.

    It's hard to say if the constant reminders help her grieving process. Most of the time she's strong, she said, but once when a picture came on TV of a youthful Herb behind the bench as the coach at the University of Minnesota, "I just lost it."

    There have been a lot of tears in the past 18 months for Patti Brooks, who lives in the Birchwood Township home she shared with her husband. Last summer, her 31-year-old goddaughter, Nikki Irgens of Sioux City, Iowa, died of cancer, and a week ago her beloved dog, Bridget, died.

    She shook her head.

    "We were talking about the dog, and the last conversation Herbie had, the day of his accident, he called Kelly and said, 'You don't have to run over and let the dog out, I'm almost home,' " Patti recalled sadly. "He was thinking of just letting the dog out, and in one little split-second, what happens?"

    On the flip side, talk of the good times brings out a smile as wide as the swath cut through the hockey world by her husband, who coached the Gophers to three NCAA championships, coached the United States to a silver medal in the 2000 Olympics, and coached and scouted in the NHL but always remained the unassuming guy who grew up on St. Paul's East Side.

    She remembered Herb coming home after spending a day with Kurt Russell on the set of the Hollywood movie "Miracle," and "he would just downplay everything. I mean, how do you spend the day with Kurt Russell and not think it was a big deal?"

    She smiled and said, "I don't know, but I think what happened with that movie would have been a real surprise to him."

    The movie didn't bring Patti much heartache because "it wasn't Herbie" on the screen, she said, adding that Patricia Clarkson, who played the role of Patti Brooks, got it all wrong when she always called Kurt Russell "Herb." Hearing that, Patti said, it was like hearing fingernails across a blackboard.

    "I never called him 'Herb' in my life," she said.

    Talking about a Christmas Eve scene in "Miracle," she chuckled and said the closest incident to that in real life occurred on Valentine's Day in 1980, when she and Kelly, then 8, waited until 2 a.m. after a game in the snow outside the Lake Placid Arena for her husband "so she could give him a flippin' Valentine."

    More than a week later, Patti had to fast-talk her way past a New York State Trooper to get the locker room after the United States locked up the 1980 gold medal, because family members had no credentials for access.

    "I talk faster and more than anybody, and finally he said, 'Show me your driver's license,' " she recalled with a laugh. "When I got there, Herbie was standing there talking to Jimmy Carter on the phone."

    After a later visit with the president, Herbie and Patti flew to the Twin Cities courtesy of Carter.

    When they landed that evening, the outside temperature was 20 below zero, and they peered out the window of Air Force One at a windy, snow-swept tarmac.

    "It was covered with people," Patti recalled. "That's when I remember thinking that this was kind of a big deal."
    "It's always a Catch-22 situation. They hate you if you're the same, and they hate you if you're different."
    ~Eddie Van Halen~

    "The perfect woman has an IQ of 150, wants to make love until 4 in the morning, and then turns into a pizza."
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  2. #2
    Pope Of Greenwich Village SuckaInA3Piece's Avatar
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    "It's always a Catch-22 situation. They hate you if you're the same, and they hate you if you're different."
    ~Eddie Van Halen~

    "The perfect woman has an IQ of 150, wants to make love until 4 in the morning, and then turns into a pizza."
    ~David Lee Roth~

    Sucka'sFacebook

  3. #3
    Atomic Punk Bob_R's Avatar
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    I believe it is being aired in it's entirety on ESPN Classic tonight.

  4. #4
    Pope Of Greenwich Village SuckaInA3Piece's Avatar
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    I'll be watching.
    "It's always a Catch-22 situation. They hate you if you're the same, and they hate you if you're different."
    ~Eddie Van Halen~

    "The perfect woman has an IQ of 150, wants to make love until 4 in the morning, and then turns into a pizza."
    ~David Lee Roth~

    Sucka'sFacebook

 

 

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