PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Herb Brooks doesn't need another miracle.
Twenty-two years after his upset of all upsets to win an Olympic gold medal, Brooks is a different coach with a far different U.S. hockey team.
He won't have a bunch of star-spangled college kids he trained relentlessly for six months and subjected to enough psychological ploys to fill a Freudian textbook.
These players will be pros, and the Soviet hockey dynasty that was beaten by Brooks' amateurs was long ago dismantled.
The Salt Lake City Olympics will bear no resemblance in style, substance or character to the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" games in Lake Placid, except for the home-ice advantage.
Which raises a question: Why is Brooks returning? After writing the most improbable story in hockey history -- perhaps in the history of all sports -- what else is there to prove?
"Maybe I'm sort of like the players -- there's still a lot of little boy in me," Brooks said. "And maybe I'm a little smarter now than I was before for all the stupid things I've done."
Brooks did not need this job to validate his credentials. Coaching what was chosen as the team of the century did that, and so did mostly successful runs in the NHL with the Rangers, Devils, North Stars and Penguins.
He could still be an NHL coach -- he was the Penguins' interim coach two years ago, and could have stayed as long as he wanted -- but he didn't want to be separated from his wife and family in Minnesota.
Penguins general manager Craig Patrick, who knows Brooks as well as anyone, thinks he knows why Brooks accepted the U.S. appointment: Brooks likes challenges, likes proving that something can be done when many say it can't.
"He's energized by this, he really is," Patrick said. "It's great to see."
Patrick is one of the other reminders of 1980. He was Brooks' assistant coach then, and now he is one of the U.S. general managers. Mark Johnson, the leading scorer in '80, is one of Brooks' advisers.
One of the youngest U.S. players, the Colorado Avalanche's 25-year-old Chris Drury, a former Little League World Series star, also "reminds me of our kids in 1980," Brooks said.
The most striking parallels, though, are off the ice.
In 1980, the Soviets had just invaded Afghanistan and Americans were being held hostage in Iran. Now, Americans are in Afghanistan and the crisis is much closer to home following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"There are some similarities on the world stage, and we are not oblivious to that," Brooks said. "But we will be focusing on the task at hand, and we won't be pulled off to the side thinking about it. I'm sure the crowd will be like a sixth man in basketball for us, but the Olympics are an athletic event first and foremost."
What also has changed is the format. The NHL will play until Feb. 13, only two days before the medal round starts in Salt Lake City.
In contrast, the 1980 U.S. team spent six months training and playing exhibitions. That was more than enough time for some players to develop an intense dislike for Brooks.
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