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Saturday, August 16
Updated: August 19, 12:27 PM ET
 
Thousands fill Cathedral of St. Paul for funeral

Associated Press

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- There wasn't anybody Herb Brooks was afraid to speak his mind to, former U.S. Olympic team captain Mike Eruzione told the 2,500 people gathered to mourn the legendary hockey coach.

Funeral, Pallbearers
After visitations Friday and Saturday, Herb Brooks was eulogized by two of his former players at his funeral Saturday at the Cathedral of St. Paul. The service was open to the public.

The speakers were Mike Eruzione, who scored the game-winning goal in the 1980 American Olympic hockey win over the Soviet Union team, and Bill Butters, who played for Brooks at the University of Minnesota.

North Stars coach Lou Nanne was among the regular pallbearers, joined by about 40 honorary pallbearers, including Eruzione, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Craig Patrick and Glen Sonmor, former Gophers, North Stars and Minnesota Fighting Saints coach.

Brooks' family planned a private burial and did not disclose the location.


Pallbearers and honorary pallbearers for Brooks' funeral:

PALLBEARERS: Lou Nanne, former Gophers player and Olympian with Brooks; North Stars general manager and coach; Dave Brooks, brother; Warren Strelow, former goaltending coach; Roger Wigen, friend; Butch Bloom, friend; Steve Badalich, friend; LeRoy Houle, friend

HONORARY PALLBEARERS: Chuck Grillo, Pittsburgh Penguins scout; Mike Eruzione, 1980 Olympian; Larry Hendrickson, former Richfield and Apple Valley high school coach; Wayne Ferris; Dave Knoblauch

Jack Blatherwick, Brooks' former strength and conditioning coach; Neil Sheehy, former NHL player; attorney; Paul Ostby, former Gophers player; Art Kaminsky, former agent

Don Saatzer, retired NHL scout; Richard "Doc" Rose, former North Stars trainer; Gary Gambucci, former Gophers player; Glen Sonmor, former Gophers, North Stars and Minnesota Fighting Saints coach; Ken Fanger

Lou Cotroneo, former Johnson High School coach; Noel Rahn; Charley Walters, Pioneer Press columnist; Sid Hartman, Star Tribune columnist; Bill Butters, former NHL and WHA player, Gophers assistant and Bethel College and White Bear Lake coach

Paul Johnson; Tim Tyson; Dean Blais, former Gophers player; University of North Dakota coach; Bruce Telander; John Gilbert, former Minneapolis Tribune and Star Tribune reporter

Bob Rink; Doug Johnson, editor of "Let's Play Hockey" magazine; Larry Williamson; Tom Reid, former North Star; Wild broadcaster; Frank Messin

Craig Patrick, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager; Joe Micheletti, former Gopher and NHL player; NHL broadcaster; Bob Paradise, former Cretin star, NHL player; Paul Coppo, former Olympian; Johnny Mayasich, former Gopher/Olympian

J.P. Parise, former North Star; director of hockey at Shattuck Academy in Faribault; Craig Dahl, St. Cloud State coach; Nick Fotiu, played for Brooks on New York Rangers; Lou Vario, former U.S. Olympic coach; Greg Malone, former NHL player; head scout with Pittsburgh Penguins

"Right now, he's saying to God: 'I don't like the style of your team. We should change it,'" Eruzione said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

About 2,500 people filled the Cathedral of St. Paul on Saturday to pay their final respects to Brooks, the man best known for coaching the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team dubbed "The Miracle on Ice." Brooks was killed Monday in a car accident just north of the Twin Cities.

Pittsburgh Penguins great Mario Lemieux and Toronto Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn were among the attendees, along with former NHL stars Nick Fotiu and Neal Broten.

"He was just a great man to have around," said Lemieux, whose Penguins employed Brooks as a coach, as a scout and, most recently, as director of player development. "I have nothing but respect for him, and admiration."

Penguins GM Craig Patrick and head scout Greg Malone were honorary pallbearers; others included former Minnesota North Stars players and coaches, Minnesota college coaches and even a few media members. They flanked the casket holding hockey sticks above their heads.

One arrangement of flowers on the altar was from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, and another was from the Boston Bruins.

A lone bagpiper played "Amazing Grace" as the casket, followed by tearful mourners, made its way to a waiting black hearse before heading to a private burial location. Overhead, a squadron of planes flew the missing man formation. The Mass lasted about an hour and 45 minutes.

It was a fitting goodbye for a man who inspired many.

"I'm sure he was the greatest coach ever," Bill Butters, who played for Brooks at the University of Minnesota, told the crowd. "But to me, he was a father figure."

Most of the sports world knew Brooks for the United States' stunning victory over the Soviet Union in the 1980 Lake Placid Games. The service was peppered with references to the team, and several team members attended.

But for those who knew and played for him, Brooks' impact was felt far beyond hockey.

He was eulogized as a coach who was extremely hard on his players but also was a compassionate person who was devoted to his family. Ex-players spoke lovingly of a coach they had feared at times.

"He touched a lot of people, both inside and outside the sport of hockey," said Jack O'Callahan, a member of the 1980 team. "He had a broad impact; he had many friends. Everyone's going to miss him dearly."

Eruzione, who scored the game-winning goal against the Soviets, said his wife could always tell when he was talking to Brooks on the phone.

"Because I wouldn't say anything but, 'Yeah, OK, yeah.'"

Even after his playing days were over, Eruzione said he would sometimes wonder whether he had done something wrong when Brooks would call.

But there was another side to Brooks.

"He had a passion to coach, a passion to teach," Eruzione said. "It was hard for him to show his emotions. He's like your dad -- you love your dad, but sometimes you don't like him because he makes you do things you don't want to do."

Born in St. Paul, Brooks played hockey at the University of Minnesota, where he later coached from 1972 to 1979, winning three national titles.

After the Lake Placid Games, Brooks coached the New York Rangers (1981-85), where he reached the 100-victory mark faster than any other coach in franchise history. He coached the Minnesota North Stars (1987-88), the New Jersey Devils (1992-93) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (1999-00). He also led the French Olympic team at the 1998 Nagano Games.

He was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990.

On Monday, Brooks attended a U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame celebrity golf event in Eveleth in northern Minnesota, leaving around noon to catch a flight from Minneapolis to Chicago. He was killed when his minivan rolled over in the median on Interstate 35 just north of the Twin Cities.

Authorities were still investigating what caused the crash. Witnesses said his car veered to the right and Brooks may have overcorrected, spinning his van counterclockwise across three lanes of traffic in a 70-mph stretch of interstate.

News of his death shocked the hockey world and the state of Minnesota.

"He felt he could convert the whole world to hockey," former Gov. Arne Carlson said before walking into the cathedral.

Carlson admitted he didn't know much about hockey, but he knew Brooks and, like many people, was inspired by that night in 1980 -- one of the greatest upsets in sports history.

"It's like the death of John Kennedy; everyone knows where they were. We were glued to the television set," Carlson said.

Minnesota Wild center Darby Hendrickson was 7 years old when that game was played.

"It put a dream in your head as a kid to motivate you to want to do what they did," said Hendrickson, a Duluth native. "It allowed a kid like myself and many other kids to dream."




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