Aaaand we're back! :) Last week on Miracle Monday we finished up with the final roster, but there was a whole other cast of characters that very well could've been a part of that group. They were a part of that group, actually, for a period of time, but just didn't make that final cut. I mean, if you've watched Miracle, you've probably shed a tear or two over Ralph Cox getting cut. That scene is one of the few cinematic moments that, whenever I watch it, I irrationally hope that maybe it'll happen differently this time... but it never does. :( There was a whole lot more going on there than just Ralph though, so it's entirely worth a look at Herb's tangled web of roster moves!
Bruce Horsch: Bruce is the winningest goalie in Michigan Tech University history, won the NCAA championship there in 1975, and was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in '76. He played on Team USA in '78 and '79, splitting backup duties with Steve Janaszak in the lead-up to Lake Placid, but was ultimately cut not long before the Olympics. He retired after a season in the IHL, spent a decade coaching, and then became athletic director of Houghton High School in Michigan.
Les Auge: Les went to the same high school as Herb Brooks and played for Herb at the University of Minnesota, winning the NCAA championship in 1974. He left school in '75 and played for various minor league teams (along with fellow "old men" Buzz Schneider and Mike Eruzione) before playing on the '79 world championship team. Les had a great relationship with Herb, and Herb was absolutely devastated to have to cut him (and his cut gets a lot of screen time in Miracle on Ice). He was never drafted into the NHL but signed with the Colorado Rockies as a free agent, though he spent the rest of his career in the minors before retiring in '82. Les died during open heart surgery in 2002 at the age of 49.
Jack Hughes: Jack was a tough guy from Boston who majored in economics at Harvard University and set school records for most points and assists by a defenseman. He was one of the last guys cut from the Olympic roster (right alongside Ralph Cox, actually, right before the Games) because Herb was concerned about his mobility on the ice. He'd been drafted by the Colorado Rockies in 1977 and played part of two seasons in the NHL before retiring in '82. Jack got into the financial world after hockey, and ended up co-founding Beanpot Financial Services with his 1980 teammate (and roommate) Jack O'Callahan in 1992.
Gary Ross: Gary played at the University of North Dakota before transferring to Bemidji State, finishing his college career in 1975 before playing on the U.S. Olympic team at Innsbruck 1976. He played abroad in Austria for a season before rejoining Team USA in '79. After not making the '80 Olympic team, he returned home to Roseau, Minnesota to teach fourth grade and coach his old high school hockey team and the girls' golf team. (A hockey player that became a fourth grade teacher? That's both adorable and something I never thought I would hear!)
Donnie Waddell: Donnie here is almost always ignored in relation to the 1980 Olympic team, but get a load of this guy's story. He played college hockey at Northern Michigan University, and was well on his way to making the Olympic team... until he slid into the boards and broke his leg at tryouts. He wasn't totally able to get back to his usual form after that but remained on Herb's "taxi squad," filling in for Bob Suter after Bob broke his ankle. Bob, however, was able to get back into good enough shape that he made the final roster and Donnie didn't (go figure!). Donnie had been drafted by the Los Angeles Kings in 1978 but only played one NHL game, spending nine seasons playing in various minor leagues. After he retired in '88, he spent the next decade coaching in the IHL before becoming the first and only general manager of the NHL's Atlanta Thrashers (now the Winnipeg Jets). From 2011-2014 he was a scout for the Pittsburgh Penguins, and now he's the president of Gale Force Sports & Entertainment, the parent company of the Carolina Hurricanes. He's also served in numerous roles for USA Hockey, and even got his Olympic moment as the general manager of the 2006 U.S. Olympic team. So, like, he's kind of a big deal.
Ralph Cox: Ah yes, everybody's favorite bleeding heart from wherever's not gonna get him hit. :) Ralph attended the University of New Hampshire and was an absolute sniper; he's still the school's all-time leading scorer. He was on the U.S. world championship team in 1979, but broke his ankle about a month before Olympic team tryouts. He was still the best goal-scorer on that pre-Olympic roster (yes, even better than Mark Johnson), but his injury limited his mobility. Herb thought this liability was too much of a risk, so Ralph became the last guy cut (and Herb was extremely emotional about this decision). As painful as getting cut was, Ralph was never bitter about it, and he didn't let that chase him out of hockey. He'd been drafted by the Boston Bruins in 1977 but spent the next two seasons playing in the minors before heading to Finland, where he played until his retirement in '85. He then got into real estate (and started his own company) and scouted for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but the best part? Nowadays he's on the Olympic and Paralympic Movement Committee for the potential Boston 2024 Olympic bid! :D
Dave Delich: Dave grew up in hockey-crazed Eveleth (along with Mark Pavelich) and went to Colorado College (woo, Colorado Springs represent!), where he's still the all-time leading scorer with 285 points. He spent parts of two seasons in the minor leagues before making the pre-Olympic roster, but was cut after spending a good chunk of the season on the team. However, he was another cut that felt no bitterness when his teammates ended up winning Olympic gold. He played another couple of seasons in the minors and in Switzerland before hanging up his skates. But his athletic career was far from over! He got into the real estate business and started golfing competitively, even competing in the U.S. Senior Open on the PGA Tour.
Tim Harrer: Tim grew up in Minnesota and played for Herb at the University of Minnesota. He had a solid first three years there, winning the NCAA championship in 1979. He tried out for the '80 Olympic team and was the only 1979 Gopher not to make the preliminary roster outright. So he returned to school and had an absolutely monster year, scoring a school-record 53 goals (a record that still stands today). Herb took notice and invited him back to the Olympic team for a handful of games as a tryout. In Miracle, Tim was the source of all sorts of drama -- and by his own admission, what the movie showed was actually very true. If he'd done any better at tryouts he probably would've been on the team from the beginning, but since he was a latecomer, Herb didn't want to mess with the team chemistry that already existed. So instead, Tim got to watch all his buddies from the Gophers win Olympic gold without him. After his senior year of school, he spent several seasons playing for various minor-league teams before playing a handful of games for the Calgary Flames, who'd drafted him in '77. But then it was back to the minors, and he retired in '85. After hockey, he went to work for the company his dad had started, and that's where he still is today.
WHEW. I hope you learned a thing or two today! ;) I'll shut up now, and let Ralph Cox do the rest of the talking.