Miracle Monday: John "Bah" Harrington

Uh, can anyone else believe I've been doing Miracle Mondays since the beginning of July? Like, it's been more than four months of this. Back when I first cooked up this idea, the date I'd be writing about Bah Harrington was some fuzzy, far-off point in the future... yet here we are. And it's about time, too, 'cause there's nothing about this dude I don't like! :)


+ We should probably start off by straightening out this whole Bah/John name situation, right? His name is John, but when he was a baby, his brother tried to call him baby and "bah" came out. The Harringtons were a family of nicknames -- T.P., Tootie and Mugs among them -- so John became Bah, and it stuck. This led to a lifetime of being referred to as Bob in newspaper stories, because... well, who's ever heard anyone called Bah before?

+ Bah is the epitome of "hard work beats talent when talent doesn't work hard." Basically, he was never the most talented player, but he was super hardworking and stubborn. For most of his life he was a step behind his peers in terms of talent, but he worked his tail off and made up that ground. He'd only been recruited by one Division I college -- the Air Force Academy -- and that was mostly because of his grades. And after one day there he decided he hated it, so he returned to Minnesota and walked onto the team at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. No scholarship, no guarantees, no nothing. But he hustled and earned himself a scholarship and a roster spot, though after a good freshman season he got injured and was worried about not being asked back for his junior year. But then he was put on a line with future Olympic teammate Mark Pavelich, and both of their scoring numbers went through the roof. :)

+ Bah wasn't expected to make the Olympic team, as Herb knew that he was a very average player. But he showed up in Colorado Springs six weeks early to work out with a trainer at the Air Force Academy and get used to the high altitude. He packed on a few pounds of muscle, and worked himself into the ground at tryouts, and sufficiently impressed Herb to get himself onto the roster. He spent seven of the eight months of the pre-Olympic season living in fear that he'd be cut, but he survived and during the Olympics he racked up six assists in eight games. (I mean, hello, six assists tied him for second-most on the team!) Along with Pav and Buzz Schneider, he was a Conehead, and that line was the highest-scoring on the team and had a hand in pretty much every significant goal in the tournament. Mike Eruzione's game-winner against the Soviets? Bah had an assist on that sucker. He may not've been the big star, but he most certainly made his presence felt!

+ After the Olympics, Bah signed a contract with the Buffalo Sabres (he'd gone undrafted by the NHL). The Sabres sent him into their minor league system, but pretty soon he was heading to Switzerland to play on a team with Pav, where the two of them became the most prolific scoring duo in the league (are we noticing a Bah/Pav pattern here yet, or...?). That was their last season together, though, as Pav joined the New York Rangers and Bah played for various national teams and minor league teams in the U.S. But really, he was just biding his time before he could try out for the Olympic team in 1984 (along with Phil Verchota). So this guy that was constantly told that he wasn't good enough and had to struggle for everything he ever achieved in hockey ended up becoming a two-time Olympian and being named alternate captain on his second go-around. If that's not inspiring, I don't know what is. Honestly.

+ Bah hung up his skates after the 1984 Olympics, but he was far from finished with hockey. He became assistant coach at the University of Denver, then St. Cloud State, and then head coach at Division III St. John's University (the one in Minnesota). He was at St. John's for 15 years, becoming the winningest head coach in program history and leading the team to five NCAA tournament appearances and five MIAC titles. He left St. John's to coach in Switzerland and Italy for several years, and then coached the Slovenian national team for three years. Nowadays, he works as a scout for the Colorado Avalanche, in addition to his job of Hockey Director of the Herb Brooks Training Center.

So if you're ever feeling bad about yourself, just think about a dude named Bah (or, y'know, "Bob") who was never "good enough" yet has a list of accomplishments that rivals absolutely anyone's. :)

Also, in this video he says that the Miracle on Ice "has the shelf life of a Twinkie," which is more or less the greatest thing I've ever heard.

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