The Best Hockey Coach

The miracle hockey team of the Olympics of 1980.  He had skated in two Olympic teams themselves, was several years college hockey coach, and spent 1979 looking for utilizes for the team.  In 1980, the US did not recruit NHL stars, for the gamers were still of entirely beginner status.  Herbie Brooks went to the National Sports Festival in Colorado Springs, Co in 1979 and found those players who were the most willing to adjust to his style of hockey playing.  His style was to skate strict and work together together, with no individual standouts.  He gave them emotional tests in addition to physical ones, and tried to determine which players could not play together due to intense local rivalry.  Hockey was strong in only a few places back in 1980, and the rivalry in between the University of Minnesota and Boston University was intense, concluding in a 1976 NCAA semifinal that was on the list of nastiest college games played until that point.

Twelve of the young men he was contemplating for the team were from Minnesota, and Brooks had coached nine of all of them at the University of Minnesota.  Four were from Boston University, and Brooks was not sure if they could neglect their regional allegiance to perform with each other for the Olympic team as a true team.   The Easterners thought that Brooks was especially tough on them, but the men who had skated under Brooks said which his motto was “I’m here to be your coach; I’m not here to be your friend.”  Brooks was given a whip by the team as a gag gift for Christmas.

To have the team to work together, Brooks had six weeks of training camp, and then sixty-one hockey games played all over Europe and America during a five month period.  Brooks ran them ragged, criticized them, and left the morale building to his assistant motor coachs.   During this five month period he went frequently the team plans, looking for how to play the perfect game of hockey.  When the team was winning, he congratulated them, but kept working over the plans.  When the team tied, as they did in Norway, he was disgusted with the issue of effort.   Following the game was over, he told his players “If ensure skate during the game, then you’ll skate after it.”  And the team did just that, skating line races: end line to blue line and back, end line to red line and back, end line to end line and back.  The crowd left, the janitors switched out the lights, and still the team skated.   The next night, the team won, 9 to .

Herbert Brooks died in an auto accident on August 11, 2003.  His Lake Placid team came to pay their respects to a hard taskmaster, but a precious and highly regarded coach.   As they said in the eulogy “Herbie had a dream. And his players had a dream.”  He attacked that desire to the impressive gold medal team of Lake Placid in 1980.

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