Alumni Corner: Rob McClanahan

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Go Gophers! Rob McClanahan
Go Gophers!
McClanahan had 108 points in 121 games at Minnesota and helped lead the Gophers to a national championship in the 1978-79 season.
Go Gophers!
Before Rob McClanahan became a starter on for the U.S. Olympic hockey team that won the famous "Miracle on Ice" game and went on to capture the country's first gold medal in hockey in 20 years, he skated for three years at the University of Minnesota. As a Gopher, the St. Paul-native recorded 108 points in 121 games and helped lead Minnesota to its third national championship in the 1978-79 season. McClanahan later played over 200 games in the NHL and scored 117 points. He recently took some time to look back on his hockey career and catch up with What was your time like at Minnesota and what is your favorite memory from playing at the old Mariucci Arena?
Rob McClanahan: My time at Minnesota was great. The program was at the top and I was proud to be able to wear the M on my jersey.

My favorite memory from playing at the old Mariucci would be my first time walking into that locker room and seeing my name on a stall. Then walking up the stairs to play our first game in front of a packed house. That was cool!

GS: The campus has changed a lot since you went to the U and is still changing a lot even now. Where was your favorite place to eat on campus at the University of Minnesota?
RM: Stub & Herbs was our hangout. We had our pregame meals there and would go there after our Saturday night game.

GS: Which teams were your biggest rivals in college?

RM: Our biggest rivals were the same as they are today. Wisconsin and North Dakota.  We also had great games against Michigan.

GS: You played for one of the most legendary hockey coaches of all time in Herb Brooks. What was it like playing for him at Minnesota and was he any different when he coached you for the U.S. Olympic team?
RM: Playing for Herb required serious discipline and a thick skin. At the U we really didn't know where we stood from one day to the next. He would change lines on a dime so we were constantly on edge.
As far as the coaching differences between the U and Olympic team, it was like night and day. By the time we played on the Olympic team Herb had refined many of his training tactics. He no longer just skated us for conditioning and he was ahead of his time as far as interval training and dry-land training tactics. He also let us be far more creative offensively than while at the U.
The bottom line with Herb: he got his players to play at their highest level at the most important time. He knew how to win the big game.
GS: Assuming that winning the Gold Medal at the 1980 Olympics is at the top of the list, what is your second-favorite hockey memory?
RM: I have so many it's hard to pick just one. I was fortunate to play on many successful teams throughout my career. If I had to pick a second-favorite memory it would have to be the night of the selection to the US Olympic team. It was midnight and there were 84 players sitting in a room. I was one of 26 selected that evening and it validated that all my hard work had paid off.

GS: What did you think of the movie "Miracle"?
RM: I have seen the movie and I think it is very well done. Kurt Russell's portrayal of Herbie is terrific. The message sent is timeless.

GS: Do you think the Olympics should still use college-age players or do you like that they now use players from the NHL?
RM: Tough question to answer. I enjoy watching the best players in the world play against one another, but I also believe there is more passion when a team has the opportunity to grow together over an entire season. I change my mind on this almost daily.

GS: Who was the best player you ever played with or against?
RM: Wayne Gretzky.

GS: What have you been up to since you stopped playing the game?
RM: When I was playing in New York for the Rangers I worked two summers on Wall Street for Morgan Stanley. I've been in the investment business ever since I retired.

GS: To what extent do you follow Gopher hockey today? Do you still keep in touch with the players you played with at the U?
RM: I pay very close attention to Gopher Hockey. I stay in contact with a handful of former teammates and am as anxious as anyone to see them get the program back to where it belongs...on top!
Go Gophers! Rob McClanahan
Go Gophers!
McClanahan (back row, far left) was all smiles when the 1980 Miracle On Ice Olympic Team was honored at old Mariucci Arena.
 (photo courtesy of Jesse Rodriguez).
Go Gophers!

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