By the age of 36, most hockey players are either looking towards retirement or perhaps have already signed up for the local senior league on Friday night. Goalie Ross Brooks on the other hand did not make his NHL debut until the age of 36.
Brooks grew up in Toronto and played four years of major junior hockey with the Barrie Flyers of the OHA and the Lakeshore Bruins of the NOHA. In 1954-55, at the age of 17, Brooks played eleven games for the Flyers, posting a less than spectacular 6.27 gaa. After spending the following year with the Junior B Lakeshore Bruins, Brooks returned to the Flyers as their number-one backstop, playing in 43 games. He returned in 1957-58 as an overage player, where he appeared in 23 contests.
By the 1958-59 season, Brooks was tending goal for the Washington Presidents of the EHL, where he started 26 games. In the following years he suited up for the Philadelphia Ramblers, the Jersey Devils, the Long Island Ducks, the Johnstown Jets and finally the Providence Reds, where he played for the better part of seven seasons until 1971.
At the age of 34, Brooks was signed as a free agent by the Boston Bruins on October 2, 1971. He played with the club's AHL affiliate, the Boston Braves, before being called up to the Bruins where he played in 16 games during the 1972-73 season, going 11-1-3 with three shutouts and a 2.64 gaa. The following year he was every bit as good, compiling a 16-3-0 record while posting a 2.36 gaa in a backup role to starter Gilles Gilbert. Brooks was back in Boston in 1974-75, starting 17 games for the Bruins as a 37-year-old backup. Once again, he posted an excellent record, going 10-3-3. Critics argued his record was so strong because he only played against the NHL's weaker teams, allowing starter Gilles Gilbert to rest during those games, and while there were tougher jobs than having to play behind the likes of Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito, the fact remains he was a winner when called upon.
By 1975-76, Brooks was 38, and had hoped to return for one more season with the Bruins. However, those plans were dashed when the Bruins announced veteran Gerry Cheevers was returning to the NHL after playing in the WHA, and would be sharing the goaltending duties with Gilles Gilbert. Brooks played the year in the AHL with the Rochester Americans, starting in 34 games, going 20-12-2 with two shutouts and a 3.00 gaa.
In recent years Brooks had been a member of the Boston Bruins organization and was the director of operations with the Providence Bruins until be released from his post in 2000.