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Herb Brooks Obituary

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Former Olympic hockey coach Herb Brooks, who led the United States to the "Miracle on Ice" victory over the Soviet Union, died Monday in a car accident, a state official said.

Brooks, 66, coached the 1980 Olympic team that won the gold medal in Lake Placid, N.Y. He returned to lead the 2002 U.S. Olympic hockey team to a silver medal.

The state official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

Brooks was killed when a single vehicle rolled over at an intersection on a highway north of the Twin Cities, the official said.

Brooks coached the Minnesota North Stars (1997-98), the New Jersey Devils (1992-93) and New York Rangers (1981-85), where he reached the 100-victory mark faster than any other coach in franchise history.

Born in St. Paul, Brooks played hockey at the University of Minnesota, where he later coached from 1972-9, winning three national titles and left with a 167-99-18 to lead the national team.

He was inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in 1990.

In the famous U.S.-Soviet Union hockey semifinal matchup, Brooks told his players: "You're meant to be here. This moment is yours. You're meant to be here at this time."

The U.S. team won 4-3 in a game often referred to as one of the greatest sports moments of the century. The Americans went on to down Finland in the final.

Brooks was the last player cut on the 1960 U.S. gold medal teams, but made it onto the 1964 and 1968 Olympic teams.

Last season, Brooks was the director of player development for Pittsburgh Penguins. He rejected a multimillion dollar offer to coach the New York Rangers last summer, saying he didn't want to be away from his wife and family in Minnesota.

For that reason, the Penguins couldn't persuade Brooks to return after he was their interim coach during the 1999-2000 season.

Brooks replaced Kevin Constantine in December 1999 and led the Penguins into the second round of the playoffs.

He had an NHL career coaching record of 219-221-66-2, including a 29-23-5-2 record with Pittsburgh.

"It's a great loss for USA hockey," said Bob Allen, who operated the Olympic Center during the 1980 Winter Games. "He was a master motivator, a great thinker."

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press