Mike Eruzione has saved the U.S. hockey workforce’s miracle alive for 40 years

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Mike Eruzione hasn’t seen any films concerning the “Miracle On Ice” in 10 years.

“I do know the story,” he stated, smiling.

Solely thrice in 40 years has he allowed himself to observe the replay of the U.S. ice hockey workforce’s upset of the Soviets in 1980 Lake Placid Olympics.

“The second time was a few 12 months in the past,” stated Eruzione, who scored the decisive aim within the People’ 4-Three victory Feb. 22, 1980.

“I don’t wish to be sitting at dwelling watching the Russian sport and one in every of my buddies reveals up and says, ‘Let it go, Mike.’ ”

However the sport, the workforce he captained to Olympic gold and the reminiscences stay an enormous a part of his life. On the age of 65, he concedes this a lot unapologetically, “I’d like to observe it sometime when my grandkids get a little bit older.”

Eruzione was on the town Tuesday to affix Craig Patrick, a former Pittsburgh Penguins basic supervisor and an assistant to teach Herb Brooks on the U.S. workforce, at PPG Paints Enviornment, the place they dropped the puck in a ceremony earlier than the sport in opposition to the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Eruzione stated he makes between 25 and 30 speeches yearly, a lot of them to companies looking for motivation for his or her salespeople.

He has been to Switzerland, Morocco and London. He’ll do a convention name Thursday with veteran play-by-play announcer Al Michaels, who dropped the enduring query, “Do you imagine in miracles?” as the sport ended.

Then, it’s off to Florida, Dallas, Los Angeles, Minnesota and Las Vegas twice within the subsequent month.

“My schedule is a little bit loopy,” he stated. “I maintain telling my spouse perhaps this would be the final 12 months, however it retains persevering with.”

Throughout the Olympics, Eruzione stated he and his teammates didn’t understand the significance of the sport. Brooks principally shielded them from the media.

“To us, it was a hockey sport. To lots of people, it was a hockey sport,” he stated.

“However to much more individuals, it was the political local weather that made this occasion so particular. The (Iran) hostages, the state of our nation, risk of a chilly conflict, fuel strains, inflation.

“As a rustic, we had been wanting to be ok with one thing. It occurred to be us. Of all sports activities, ice hockey. Hockey wasn’t the largest sport in america and nonetheless isn’t, sadly. However this second captured the spirit of a rustic.”

Brooks, who coached the Penguins underneath Patrick through the 1999-2000 season, introduced collectively fierce rivals from Boston College (Eruzione’s college) and the College of Minnesota. The faculties had staged an notorious bench-clearing brawl through the 1976 NCAA Match that took officers 30 minutes to resolve.

“I didn’t like anybody from Minnesota,” Eruzione stated.

However they bonded underneath the U.S. flag, he stated.

Minnesota, coached by Brooks, and Wisconsin had an equally intense rivalry.

“Herb Brooks and Badger Bob Johnson didn’t like one another in any respect,” Eruzione stated of the colleges’ coaches. “Right here was our greatest participant, Mark Johnson, Badger’s son, enjoying for Herb.

“How was that going to work? And it labored out fantastic as a result of Mark isn’t solely a fantastic participant, he’s a fantastic individual and Herb’s a fantastic coach.”

After the Olympics, hockey principally ended for Eruzione, however he did play in a league with some buddies till age 50.

He stated he offered most of his memorabilia for $1.Three million, giving the cash to his kids and utilizing a part of it to endow a scholarship at BU in his mother and father’ title.

The gold medal is saved in a secure deposit field at a financial institution. He let it out lately so his 6-year-old grandson, Michael, may take it college for present and inform.

“The medal is one factor that can by no means be offered whereas I’m alive,” he stated. “But when I die tomorrow, my 31-year-old son, he’ll promote it. It will likely be on eBay in a heartbeat.”

Eruzione wrote a e book about his life titled “The Making of a Miracle: The Untold Story of the Captain of the 1980 Gold Medal-Profitable U.S. Olympic Hockey Group.”

“I wrote the e book for one cause and one cause solely,” he stated. “I need my grandkids to know my life wasn’t two weeks in Lake Placid. I need them to know Papa did much more issues in his life than one sport and one aim.”

Eruzione stated he and his teammates didn’t understand the influence they made till after their return dwelling. However the ensuing years have made clear what their victory meant to the nation.

“We had been working-class youngsters who got here from households that taught nice values about teamwork, nice values about laborious work to achieve success,” he stated.

“The teachings our workforce realized as we had been enjoying, believing in your self, believing in one another, turning into a fantastic workforce collectively as a bunch — Herb used to name us the lunch-pail, hard-hat group of men.

“We got here to work daily ready and centered to be the most effective. It turned out that we had been.”

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Evaluate employees author. You may contact Jerry by e-mail at [email protected] or through Twitter .


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