Coached To Olympic Gold
In 1979, Brooks left the University of Minnesota to become coach of the U.S. national team which finished seventh in the world championships. The following year, he was named the coach of the U.S. Olympic team. At the time, players still had to be amateurs, so many of his players were college hockey players. Brooks picked twenty-six players to play the sixty exhibition games in the ten months prior to the Olympic games.
Brooks used this time to develop them into a team, as well as mold them for future professional careers. He also had to figure out which six to drop from the squad as only 20 would play in the Olympics. A demanding coach, he expected much from his players. Brooks also introduced them to a new system of hockey than had previously played in the United States. Brooks was inspired by Europeans to develop "American hockey." It used an aggressive forecheck with a puck possession strategy. While it was good for international play, it was hard to learn.
Though Team USA lost to the U.S.S.R. team in one of the last exhibition games 10-3 in New York City, Brooks' squad beat them when it mattered in tournament play. Team USA won 4-3 in an upset victory dubbed the Miracle on Ice. The Americans went on to defeat Finland 4-2 to win the gold medal. These victories made Brooks and his team heroes in the United States. However, Brooks declined to capitalize on his success right away. Brooks could have coached in the NHL right away, but he chose to go to Switzerland. He coached there for one season, for Daro in the Swiss Elite League, but it did not work out.