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I remember where I was when the US Olympic hockey team beat the Russians…I was at the dinner table with my family. For some reason, it was a very late dinner for us that night. And, to this day, it was the only time my father let us listen to the radio at the dinner table. The State of Hockey has lost it's coach. Oh sure, Glen Sonmor & Lou Nanne are great ambassador's for the game in Minnesota. But we have lost our coach.To me, Mr. Books made the Miracle on Ice something personal. He was an East Side boy. And, as they say, you can take the boy out of the East Side, but you can take the East Side out of the boy. And, by all accounts, Mr. Brooks never wanted to shun his East Side heritage. In fact, shortly after beating the Russians in 1980, Mr. Brooks was asked if it was his greatest thrill in hockey. Mr. Brooks replied, “No. Playing in the State High School Hockey Tournament was my greatest thrill.”I grew up near the East Side (not close enough to call myself an “East Sider”). Mr. Brooks and his family were always a visible part of that community, in general, and in St. Paul to a larger extent. There are few hockey fans in St. Paul that are unable to tell some type of story about meeting, or seeing Mr. Brooks. In St. Paul, you could see him at a game in the halls with the common folk, or in McGovern's sitting at the bar, or on a local golf course in the summer. By all accounts Mr. Brooks was as far from the celebrity elite as you could imagine. He was a very real, genuine person. My 2 year-old son ran in to his leg during a Wild game, a couple of years back (which was quite an accomplishment since Mr. Brooks was standing still, and there were very few people in the hallway at the time). I've played golf with his son Dan on more than one occasion. And, this morning, on the radio, there is an endless stream of callers relaying their brushes with the man:People that played golf with him; People that have had a beer with him; People that met him in the airport, or flew next to him on a plane. Players he coached; players he encouraged; players he touched in some way.His accessibility made the Miracle so much more real. He made it something that St. Paulites could touch. He brought home. He brought it down to earth. He made all of us a part of it (weather he meant to or not).I am sad.Neil Broten said in the paper today “I am sick to my stomach”.Me too, Neil. Me too.Good-bye coach. Fair thee well mighty warrior.Stamp
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