Herbert Paul Brooks, Jr. (August 5, 1937 – August 11, 2003) was an American ice hockey player and coach. His most notable achievement came in 1980 as head coach of the gold medal-winning U.S. Olympic hockey team at Lake Placid. At the games, Brooks' US team upset the heavily favored Soviet team in a match that came to be known as the 'Miracle on Ice'. Brooks would go on to coach multiple NHL teams, as well as the French hockey team at the 1998 Winter Olympics, and ultimately returned to coach the US men's team to a silver medal at the 2002 games in Salt Lake City. Brooks was killed in a 2003 car accident. At the time of his death, Brooks was the Pittsburgh Penguins' director of player personnel.
|Brooks in 1983 coaching the New York Rangers.|
|Born||Herbert Paul Brooks, Jr.
August 5, 1937
|Died||August 11, 2003 (aged 66)
near Forest Lake, Minnesota, U.S.
|Occupation||Ice hockey coach, player|
|Spouse(s)||Patti Brooks (1965–2003)|
|Relatives||David Brooks (brother)|
|Men's ice hockey|
|Representing the USA|
|1962 United States||(Player)|
|1980 United States||(Coach)|
|2002 United States||(Coach)|
Herb Brooks was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, to Pauline and Herbert Brooks Sr. He attended Johnson High School, where his team won the 1955 state hockey championship.
Brooks continued his hockey career with the University of Minnesota Gophers from 1955 to 1959. He was a member of the 1960 Olympic team, only to become the last cut the week before the Games started. Three weeks later, Brooks sat at home with his father and watched the team he almost made win gold. Afterwards, Brooks "went up to the coach Jack Riley and said, 'Well, you must have made the right decision—you won.'"; this humbling moment served as motivation for an already self-driven person.
From 1960 to 1970, Brooks set a record by playing on a total of eight US National and Olympic teams, including the 1964 and 1968 Olympic squads.
After retiring as a player, he became a coach, notably leading his alma mater, the Minnesota Golden Gophers, to three NCAA championship titles in 1974, 1976, and 1979. Brooks finished his collegiate coaching with a record of 175 wins, 101 losses and 20 ties.
Soon after Minnesota won their third college championship, he was hired to coach the Olympic team. Hand-picking his team, he named several of his Minnesota players to the team as well as several from their rival, Boston University. To compete with the Soviet Union team specifically, Herb Brooks developed a hybrid of American and Canadian style and the faster European style, which emphasized creativity and teamwork, a difficult thing to do with a tough rivalry between the University of Minnesota and Boston University. He also stressed peak conditioning, believing that one of the reasons the Soviet team had dominated international competition was that many of their opponents were exhausted by the third period.
After his Olympic gold medal win, Brooks moved to Switzerland for a year to coach HC Davos in the National League A. From 1981 to 1985, he coached in the National Hockey League for the New York Rangers, where he became the first American-born coach in Rangers' team history to win 100 games. After a brief stop at then-NCAA Division III St. Cloud State University, he returned to the NHL to coach the Minnesota North Stars (from 1987 to 1988), New Jersey Devils (1992–93), and Pittsburgh Penguins (1999–2000). He was a long-time scout for the Penguins from the mid-1990s, and held the role of Director of Player Personnel from 2002 to the day of his death. His hiring by the North Stars in 1987 would be the last time a college coach was selected to coach an NHL team until North Dakota coach Dave Hakstol was tapped to coach the Philadelphia Flyers in May 2015.
Brooks also coached two more Olympic team squads: Team France at the 1998 in Nagano, and the U.S. hockey team again at the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. The 2002 team defeated the Russians in the semi-finals en route to a silver, losing in the gold medal game to Canada. The U.S. win over Russia came exactly 22 years to the day after the famous "Miracle on Ice" game.
Brooks was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990, the International Hockey Hall of Fame in 1999, and the Hockey Hall of Fame (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, Minnesota, on I-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, "He never saw it. He lived it."
Upon the 25th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice, the Olympic ice arena in Lake Placid, New York, where the United States won the gold medal, was renamed Herb Brooks Arena. A statue of Brooks depicting his reaction to the victory in the 'Miracle' game was erected at the entrance to the RiverCentre in Saint Paul, Minnesota, in 2003.
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."
The Herb Brooks Training Center is located at Blaine, Minnesota.
The National Hockey Center at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota was renamed for Brooks in April 2013.
In 2006, Brooks was posthumously inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in the Builders' category. The inscription reads: "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.
Brooks' original expressions were known by his players as "Brooksisms." According to Olympians John Harrington, Dave Silk, and Mike Eruzione, these are a few.
- "You're playing worse and worse every day, and right now you're playing like it's next month."
- "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."
- "You guys are getting bent over and they're not using Vaseline."
- "You look like a monkey tryin' to hump a football!"
- "You're looking for players whose name on the front of the sweater is more important than the one on the back. I look for these players to play hard, to play smart, and to represent their country.”
- "Great moments are born from great opportunity."
- "You know, Willy Wonka said it best: we are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams."
- "This team isn't talented enough to win on talent alone."
- "If you lose this game you'll take it to your grave ... your f***ing grave."
- "You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours."
- "Write your own book instead of reading someone else's book about success."
- "Boys, in the front of the net it's a bloody nose alley."
- "Don't dump the puck in. That went out with short pants."
- "Throw the puck back and weave, weave, weave. But don't just weave for the sake of weaving."
- "Let's be idealistic, but let's also be practical."
- "You guys don't want to work during the game?"
- "The legs feed the wolf."
- "We walked up to the tiger, looked him straight in his eye, and spat in it."
Note: GC = Games coached, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, Pts = Points, Pct = Winning percentage
|1981–82||New York Rangers||NHL||80||39||27||14||92||2nd in Patrick||0.575 (Lost Second Round)|
|1982–83||NHL||80||35||35||10||80||4th in Patrick||0.500 (Lost Second Round)|
|1983–84||NHL||80||42||29||9||93||4th in Patrick||0.581 (Lost First Round)|
|1984–85||NHL||45||15||22||8||38||5th in Patrick||0.422 (fired)|
|1987–88||Minnesota North Stars||NHL||80||19||48||13||51||5th in Norris||0.319 (missed playoffs)|
|1992–93||New Jersey Devils||NHL||84||40||37||7||87||4th in Patrick||0.518 (Lost First Round)|
|1999–2000||Pittsburgh Penguins||NHL||58||29||24||5||63||3rd in Atlantic||0.543 (Lost Second Round)|
|NHL career totals||507||219||222||66||504||0.497|
Note: GC = Games coached, W = Wins, L = Losses, T = Ties, OL = Overtime loss, Pts = Points, Pct = Winning percentage
|1972–73||Minnesota Golden Gophers||NCAA||34||15||16||3||—||33||0.485|
|1980||USA Olympic Men's Team||IIHF||Gold Medal|
|1986–87||St. Cloud State Huskies||NCAA||36||25||10||1||—||51||0.708|
|1998||France Olympic Men's Team||IIHF||11th-place finish|
|2002||USA Olympic Men's Team||IIHF||Silver Medal|
|NCAA career totals||308||182||109||17||—||381||0.619|
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