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Herbert Paul "Herb" Brooks, Jr. (August 5, 1937–August 11, 2003) was an American ice hockey coach, best known for coaching the U.S. national team to a gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics in an event known as the "Miracle on Ice", forever placing him in sports immortality.

As a player, Brooks was a member of the U.S. team in the 1964 and 1968 Olympic Games. As a coach, he coached at the college, national, European professional, and National Hockey League (NHL) levels. Among other coaching achievements, Brooks won three collegiate championships at the University of Minnesota, turning around a program which finished last before his arrival. Later on in his coaching career Brooks got away from coaching to pursue other interests, which included motivational speaking, TV analysis, and NHL scouting.

Brooks was an innovator in American hockey, creating what became known as the "hybrid" style. Mixing a European style of play with the American style of play, he created a fast-paced and creative style which became the cornerstone of his 1980 gold medal team. Part of what made Brooks so successful was his uncanny way of motivating players and getting the most out of them.

In 1980, Sports Illustrated named Brooks the Sportsman of the Year and called the 1980 gold medal game the "Greatest Sports Moment of the Century". On November 13, 2006, Brooks was posthumously inducted into the Hockey Hall of Famemarker.


Early life

Born in Saint Paulmarker, Minnesotamarker, to Herbert Brooks, Sr. and Pauline Brooks, he played on the Johnson High Schoolmarker hockey team that won the 1955 state hockey championship. Brooks also played Baseball during the summer.

Brooks later played hockey at the University of Minnesotamarker from 1955-1959. He almost made the 1960 Olympic team, only to be cut the week before the games started. Some time later, Brooks sat at home with his father and watched the team he almost made win gold. That night Herb Sr. told his son, "looks like Coach Riley cut the right guy"; this humbling moment served as motivation for an already self-driven person.

From 1960-1970 Brooks set a record, playing on a total of eight U.S National and Olympic teams, including the 1964 and 1968 Olympic squads. Later, he coached the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers hockey team to three NCAA championships (1974, 1976, and 1979). After being approached by Michigan Techmarker when head coach John MacInnes died, Brooks turned the offer down to coach St. Cloud State Universitymarker in the mid-1980s, later leading them to become a Division I hockey school. Brooks finished his collegiate coaching with a record of 175 wins, 101 lossed and 20 ties. In 1980, he became the first coach of the United States to lead his hand-picked team to victory against the USSRmarker in 20 years. The "miracle" team mostly consisted of University of Minnesota players and their rival Boston University players.

Later career

After his Olympic gold medal win, Brooks moved to Switzerlandmarker for a year to coach HC Davos in the National League A. From 1981-85, he coached in the National Hockey League for the New York Rangers, where he became the first coach in Rangers' team history to win 100 games. He also coached the Minnesota North Stars (from 1987-88), New Jersey Devils (1992-93), and Pittsburgh Penguins (1999-2000). He was a long-time head scout for the Penguins from the mid-1990s until the day of his death.

He also coached France in the 1998 Winter Olympics. He again coached the U.S. hockey team at the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, this time winning a silver medal.

He was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990, International Hockey Hall of Famemarker in 1999, and the Hockey Hall of Famemarker (posthumously) in 2006.

Death and legacy

At the age of 66, Brooks died in a single car accident on the afternoon of August 11, 2003, near Forest Lake, Minnesotamarker, on Interstate 35. It is believed that he fell asleep behind the wheel before the accident after driving all night, and neither drugs nor alcohol was responsible. Brooks was not wearing his seatbelt at the time of the crash, and according to the Minnesota State Patrol it is likely he would have survived the crash if he had been.

Disney released a film about the 1980 Olympic team in 2004 called Miracle featuring Kurt Russell playing the part of Brooks (Karl Malden had previously played Brooks in a 1981 television film called Miracle on Ice). Brooks served as a consultant during principal photography, which was completed shortly before his death. At the end of the movie there is a dedication to Brooks. It states at the end, "He never saw it. He lived it."

Upon the 25th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, the Olympic ice arena in Lake Placid, New Yorkmarker, where the United States won their gold medal, was renamed Herb Brooks Arenamarker. A statue of Brooks depicting his reaction to the victory in the "Miracle" game was erected in Saint Paul, Minnesotamarker, in 2003.

An award was created in Herb Brooks name, the Herb Brooks Award, is awarded at the conclusion of the Minnesota State High School League's state hockey tournament to "the most qualified hockey player in the state tournament who strongly represents the values, characteristics, and traits that defined Herb Brooks."

In Blaine, Minnesotamarker, there is a training center called Herb Brooks Training Center.

The road that surrounds the National Hockey Centermarker in St. Cloud, Minnesotamarker is called Herb Brooks Way.

In 2006, Brooks was posthumously inducted into the Hockey Hall of Famemarker in the Builders category. "A man of passion and dedication, Herb Brooks inspired a generation of Americans to pursue any and all dreams."


Brooks was married to his wife Patti in 1965, and they had two children, Danny and Kelly. All three survive Brooks.


Herb Brooks was full of original sayings, or "Brooksisms". According to former Olympians, John Harrington, Dave Silk and Mike Eruzione, these are a few.
  • "You're playing worse every day, and right now you're playing like it is next week...".
  • "You can't be common, the common man goes nowhere; you have to be uncommon...
  • "Boys, i'm asking you to go to the well again...".
  • "You look like you have a five pound fart on your head...".

Coaching statistics

Note: GC = Games coached, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OL = Overtime loss, Pts = Points, Pct = Winning percentage
Season Team League GC W L T OL Pts Pct
1972–73 Minnesota Golden Gophers NCAA 34 15 16 3 33 0.485
1973–74 Minnesota Golden Gophers NCAA 34 17 12 5 39 0.574
1974–75 Minnesota Golden Gophers NCAA 42 31 10 1 63 0.750
1975-76 Minnesota Golden Gophers NCAA 38 23 14 1 47 0.618
1976–77 Minnesota Golden Gophers NCAA 42 17 22 3 37 0.440
1977–78 Minnesota Golden Gophers NCAA 38 22 14 2 46 0.605
1978–79 Minnesota Golden Gophers NCAA 44 32 11 1 65 0.739
1980 USA Olympic Men's Team IIHF Olympic Gold Medal Team
1980–81 HC Davos Swiss-A 28 11 16 1 23 0.411
1981–82 New York Rangers NHL 80 39 27 14 92 0.575 (Lost Second Round)
1982–83 New York Rangers NHL 80 35 35 10 80 0.500 (Lost Second Round)
1983–84 New York Rangers NHL 80 42 29 9 93 0.581 (Lost First Round)
1984–85 New York Rangers NHL 45 15 22 8 38 0.422 (fired)
1986–87 St. Cloud State Huskiesmarker NCAA 36 25 10 1 51 0.708
1987–88 Minnesota North Stars NHL (missed playoffs) 80 19 48 13 51 0.319
1991–92 Utica Devils AHL 80 34 40 6 74 0.463
1992–93 New Jersey Devils NHL 84 40 37 7 87 0.518 (Lost First Round)
1998 France Olympic Men's Team IIHF 11th-place finish
1999–2000 Pittsburgh Penguins NHL 58 29 24 5 0 63 0.543 (Lost Second Round)
2002 USA Olympic Men's Team IIHF Olympic Silver Medal Team
NCAA career totals 308 182 109 17 381 0.619
NHL career totals 507 219 222 66 0 504 0.497

See also


External links

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