Brooks’ Miracle On Ice Memorabilia Up For Bids
By Stephen Laroche | Beckett Hockey Editor
As we approach the 35th anniversary on one of the most monumental upsets in hockey history, the Miracle On Ice, Heritage Auctions is bringing some key pieces of memorabilia from Team USA coach Herb Brooks.
Among the treasures going up on the auction block are Brooks’ personal whistle, stopwatch and sweatsuit that he wore during the 1980 Winter Olympics in addition to a collection of his personal notes on the players he led to glory and a ring he received commemorating the landmark victory. The items were consigned by the family of the late coach and they cover much of his Hall of Fame career.
“The name of Herb Brooks inspires reverence and respect in the heart of any American that remembers the ‘Miracle on Ice,’” noted Chris Ivy, Director of Sports Collectibles at Heritage Auctions in a press release. “This is the first time that his family is opening their archives to make some of the coach’s treasures to the fans that admire him so deeply. It’s a compelling look at the most famous U.S. Olympic moment of them all and the man that masterminded it all.”
Brooks, who passed away in 2003, had a solid amateur hockey career and was a standout at the University of Minnesota. The last player cut before the United States went to the 1960 Winter Olympics and surprised the world with a gold medal victory, he received the opportunity to play for his country in the two Olympic events that followed. By 1970-71, his active playing days had drawn to a close and he transitioned into coaching with his alma mater. Promoted to head coach by 1972-73, he led his players to three NCAA championships.
In 1979, he was brought in to serve as America’s bench boss at the 1979 IIHF World Championship and he remained in that position for the upcoming Olympics. He personally selected the roster from the best collegiate players around, although some criticized him for picking too many of his former players and their rivals from Boston University to make up the core of the team. Once the players overcame their differences and built up team cohesion, they were ready for the world.
Considered underdogs heading into the tournament, they managed to earn an upset victory over Czechoslovakia and tied Sweden before qualifying for the round-robin elimination round. On February 22, 1980, the Americans pulled off the seemingly unthinkable as the defeated the Soviet Union. Fans in Lake Placid got to see the game live, but the rest of the country watched it on tape delay and Al Michaels‘ call of “Do you believe in Miracles? Yes!” resonated with the nation. Two days later, the United States captured gold after defeating Finland and the sport began to grow by leaps and bounds in America in the years that followed.
Heritage has noted that the ring up for bids is just the third of its kind that they have offered, with the first two coming from the collections of players Mark Pavelich and Mark Wells.
“We’d consider this to be the most significant of all rings issued to that celebrated pack of underdogs,” continued Ivy, “The one worn by the man who gave birth to the greatest moment in American sports history. It’s also important to note that the Olympic Gold Medal Ring was the only symbol of victory that Brooks initially received for the Miracle on Ice. He was eventually awarded a gold medal from the USOC, but it is not standard practice and only done after a groundswell of support.”
Over 30 different lots of Brooks’ memorabilia will be offered and some of the other highlights include his 1974 and 1976 University of Minnesota Golden Gophers NCAA Hockey Championship rings, a jersey he wore while playing for the United States during the 1968 Winter Olympics and another that was worn during international competition during that decade. Additionally, his Hockey Hall of Fame induction ring is also available and it was presented to his family was he was posthumously enshrined in 2006.
This is not the only Miracle On Ice memorabilia that is presently available as Montreal-based Classic Auctions has items from Rob McClanahan in their current event. In addition to his jersey that was worn during that landmark game, his jacket from the 1979 pre-Olympic tournament.
Items from the Miracle On Ice game have done very well at auction in recent years. Heritage sold team captain Mike Eruzione‘s jersey two years ago for nearly $660,000 and a game-used and team-signed stick from goaltender Jim Craig reached a bid of over $32,000.
Stephen Laroche is the editor of Beckett Hockey and Beckett Basketball magazines. Have a comment, question or idea? Send an e-mail to him at SLaroche@beckett.com. Follow him on Twitter @Stephen_Laroche.