by Wally Langfellow
Aug. 11, 2003
Former U.S. Olympic and Minnesota Gopher hockey coach Herb Brooks died Monday (August 11) in a car accident. Brooks, 66, coached the 1980 "Miracle on Ice'' Olympic team that went on to win the gold medal after defeating the Soviet Union in Lake Placid, N.Y. He later returned to lead the 2002 U.S. Olympic hockey team to a silver medal.
Brooks was killed in a single vehicle rollover at a highway intersection north of the Twin Cities around 2:30 p.m. on August 11, 2003. Investigators said he was thrown from his vehicle.
Brooks NHL coaching resume included one year with the Minnesota North Stars (1987-88) along with stops in New Jersey (1992-93), Pittsburgh (1999-2000) and the New York Rangers (1981-85), where he reached the 100-victory mark faster than any other coach in franchise history. Brooks most recently had been working as a scout in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization.
"Brooks was a great innovator of the sport of hockey and it was a great privilege to be able to play for him at the University of Minnesota and for the 1980 Olympic team. Herb will be greatly missed in the hockey world, " said Wild assistant coach Mike Ramsey.
Brooks was also a strong proponent of extending the Minnesota high school hockey season's length. Recently the high school league approved lengthening games, but not lengthening the schedule.
Born in St. Paul, Brooks played hockey at the University of Minnesota, where he later coached from 1972-1979, winning three national titles inlcuding a title in his final year, 1979. He left the U with a 167-99-18 record and went onto lead the Olympic team. The U.S. team upset the Soviet Union 4-3 in a game often referred to as one of the greatest sports moments of the century.
Brooks also coached the French Olympic team in 1988 and started St. Cloud State's path to division one hockey in 1986 by coaching the Huskies for one year before turning the reigns over to current coach Craig Dahl. He also was a two-time Olympian, playing on the 1964 and 1968 teams.