Herbert Paul Brooks, Jr. - Born August 5, 1937 in Saint Paul, Minnesota – Died August 11, 2003 near Forest Lake, Minnesota was an American ice Hockey player and coach.
Brooks 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 the gold medal. Afterwards, Brooks "went up to the USA 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 teams.
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 1980 Olympic team. Hand-picking his team, he named several of his Minnesota players to the team as well as several from their rivals, Boston University. To compete with the Soviet Union team specifically, Herb Brooks developed a hybrid of the methodical American/Canadian style and the faster European style, which emphasized creativity and teamwork, a difficult thing given the sometimes intense 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.
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 Union team in a match that came to be known as the 'Miracle on Ice'.
Before the game, Brooks read his players a statement he had written out on a piece of paper, telling them that "You were born to be a player. You were meant to be here. This moment is yours."
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. He also coached 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.
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.
As part of its 100th anniversary celebrations in 2008, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) chose the "Miracle on Ice" as the century's number-one international ice Hockey story.
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 of 2013.
Hockey Hall of Fame inscription reads:
"A man of passion and dedication, Herb Brooks inspired a generation of Americans to pursue any and all dreams."