Study Guide

Herb Brooks (The Boys of Winter) in Olympics Books

By Various Authors

Herb Brooks (The Boys of Winter)

Don't Call Him "The Herb"

Even though Coffey's book highlights all the different players on the 1980 Olympic hockey team, Coach Herbie Brooks's motivational speeches and coaching style are often considered largely responsible for their "miracle" win.

In fact, any hockey fan today can probably quote from memory the speech Kurt Russell gives as Coach Brooks in the 2004 movie Miracle, and our sources tell us that this speech—which is often played on big screens in stadiums across the country just before a power play—is a pretty accurate portrayal of what was said right before his guys took to the ice. (Haven't seen it? Check it out.)

In his book The Boys of Winter, Coffey makes it pretty clear that he didn't get his skills for motivational speaking from his father. After Herb was cut from the 1960 Olympic Hockey team, which then went on to win the gold, his father told him, "Well, I guess the coach cut the right guy."

Ouch.

Herb Brooks would go on to play for the 1964 and 1968 Olympic teams, and would recycle his father's line often in his life, unflinching in the face of its hardness. It was the greatest motivational tool he could ever ask for, and it would come to embody Brooks's own modus operandi as a coach: toughness on the brink of cruelty, passionate pursuit of perfection at the expense of feelings. (The Boys of Winter)

And his methods worked. He managed to hand-pick dudes from rival teams—namely University of Minnesota and Boston University—and then created a hybrid style of hockey that combined the Canadian and European styles into one super-style of hockey that shocked the Russians into submission on that fateful day in 1980.

And despite his tough-love routine, he was incredibly beloved by his players on the 1980 team and all the other teams he went on to coach in his storied career. Guess the tough love works, eh?