1991 Impel U.S. Olympic Hall of Fame card #72 – Herb Brooks
Herb Brooks will forever be remembered best as the coach of the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team that accomplished the “Miracle on Ice” and won a gold medal. He almost won a gold medal as a player, too, with the 1960 Olympic squad. However, it was not meant to be, as explained by this 1991 trading card…
Young Herb Brooks was the last player cut from the 1960 U.S. gold-medal hockey team, but this disappointment didn’t stop him from the pursuit of excellence in his chosen sport. A native of St. Paul, MN, Brooks played hockey at the University of Minnesota and for the 1964 and 1968 U.S. Olympic Teams before accepting a coaching position at his alma mater. There, he led Minnesota to the NCAA Championship in 1974, 1976 and 1979. The following year, he coached the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team to the gold, using some rigorous and unconventional methods: a 300-question psychological exam to screen his players, grueling wind sprints (now called “Herbies” by the Olympians) and extremely strict discipline. Today, Herb Brooks is a coach with the New Jersey Devils.
In addition to the 1964 and 1968 Olympics, Brooks also played in the World Championships 6 times – all between 1960 and 1970. He also coached the 1998 and 2002 Olympic squads, adding a silver medal in ’02 to his list of accomplishments. Because of his success in international competitions, Brooks was enshrined as a member of the United States Hockey Hall of Fame (1990) and the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame (1999).
Sadly, Brooks left us too soon. He died in a single-car crash in 2003 when he fell asleep at the wheel of his car. Three years later, he would be honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame, who would induct him posthumously as a builder; fitting for the man who architected the team that inspired a generation.