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Herb Brooks’ legacy lives on at the Herb Brooks Golf Classic

06/16/2014, 3:45pm CDT
By Isaac Haight, NSC Media Intern

Herb Brooks’ legacy was evident June 13 at the Herb Brooks Golf Classic at Victory Links where 135 golfers, including a who's-who of big names in American hockey, showed their support for the idolized coach

The outing is held each year to benefit the Herb Brooks Foundation and help fund the mission of the foundation to grow the game of hockey, while paying respects to arguably the most iconic hockey coach of all time.

Minnesota Wild head coach Mike Yeo, who participated in the event, said coaching with Herb was an opportunity for him to learn from one of the best hockey minds and an overall great person. 

Dave Christian, left, and Rob McClanahan were two veterans of the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" that participated in the 2014 Herb Brooks Foundation Golf Classic.

“I just tried to gravitate towards him and be around him as much as I could, because he was someone who was a huge inspiration to me," Yeo said. "Every time you were with him you knew that you were learning and you were getting better. Just to say I was a small part of his life means a lot to me."

Brooks, a St. Paul native, was known for his community work and the enhancement of the sport of hockey in the states.  Yeo said his personality resembled his coaching style, which was always aggressive.

“I think he was creative, innovative and he was a risk taker,” Yeo said. “These things were incredibly impressive to me. One of the things that was just so obvious to me was that he had a really clear vision of the way the game should be played, the way he wanted the game to be played out and I think that’s what a great coach does.”

Rob McClanahan, who played under Brooks for the USA’s 1980 gold medal-miracle at Lake Placid, is one of many players who benefited from what Herb brought to the team and what he was able to do for US hockey.

“Herb got his players to play at their highest level at the most important times and he was ultimately a winner for that,” McClanahan said. “That is why we said we would all play for him tomorrow. He put U.S. hockey on the map, not just the map of the U.S., but the map of the world.

McClanahan also said Brooks’ achievements allowed US hockey to become what it is today and that many young players and NHL stars are the benefit of his accomplishments.

“With his presence and what he did, it allowed us and gave us the opportunity to be able to continue our careers in the pros,” McClanahan said. “Look at all the U.S. hockey players today who are excelling, some of the best in the world. It all started with Herbie and what he did in 1980.”

One of those players who has benefited from his accomplishments and legacy is Chicago Blackhawk Nick Leddy. Leddy grew up in Eden Prairie and said Brooks is inspiring figure for all hockey players since he gave so much opportunity for U.S. players.

“I think watching ‘Miracle’ had a huge effect on a lot of Minnesotans and Americans,” Leddy said. “I think spreading his charity is huge.”

Brooks’ son, Dan Brooks believes the reason for his dad’s success and accomplishments was due to his preparation for everything.

“My dad was big on preparation,” Dan said. “He thought that the most important thing, whether you were a player or coach or doing anything in life, is being prepared. No one was more prepared than him. He didn’t really understand people who got nervous, because he was a tremendous gamer so to speak. He always rose to the occasion, because he was a fierce competitor and always prepared.”

As far as Brooks' legacy, Dan said he believes his father’s legacy is beyond that of just hockey or sports and that his story is more along the lines of an American legend.

“I think he is beyond a sports icon or a coach,” Dan said. “He is almost like an American hero to a lot of people, especially in this part of the country. He is just an inspiration for so many people. His coaching and the ’Miracle on Ice’ has been an inspiration to perhaps millions of people in the last 30 years.”

“I owe Herbie a lot,” McClanahan said. “It’s great to be able to work with Dan and Kelly (Brooks' daughter). I think the foundation does a lot of good things. To expose hockey to kids who would not otherwise be able to skate or play is just something I find great joy in doing.”

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