It’s A Miracle…30 Years Later!

MiracleThere are so many “what’s the greatest” questions out there.  What’s the greatest pizza?  What’s the greatest Super Bowl team?  What’s the greatest movie?  You could literally ask and debate all day long, but how about, ‘what’s the greatest upset in sports?’  Well now, that’s easy…and speak of the devil, we’re approaching the 30-year anniversary of the momentous occasion. 

The year 1980 was a tumultuous one to say the least.  The U.S. was on its last nerve with Iran, who was still holding hostages from the previous year, and would continue to hold them into 1981.  The economy was in turmoil, the people lost confidence in their President, layoffs were all too common and home loan interest was in the high teens.  We needed a pick-me-up of the highest degree and in the worst way.  The Steelers won the Super Bowl that year but that’s only good for Pittsburgh.  Jimmy Carter was on his way out of office, but voters are fickle, rallying one minute and nay-saying the candidate the next.  No, those were not the shot in the arm that would work for Americans.  We needed something else, something grand, something like…hockey? 

The 1980 Winter Olympics were to be held in Lake Placid, New York.  Hockey had its followers, but as is the case today (unfortunately), the sport was not America’s favorite pastime.  Heck, it wasn’t even close.  So we’ve already got one strike against us.  Now take a bunch of kids not all that far removed from high school, assemble them from rival universities and make something out of it.  Strike two.  Jesus wasn’t available to coach the U.S. team that year, so they got the next best thing; Herb Brooks. 

1980 USA Hockey Team

Brooks was a hockey veteran who had a knack for conjuring chemistry out of a team and pulling the highest effort out of an individual.  He was a drill instructor adorned in plaid trousers who chewed his gum with a ferocious tenacity.  This Minnesota native was the fearless leader who had his work cut out for him.  But lead he did as he took his college collage known as the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team and led them all the way to the highly anticipated match against the big red wall, otherwise known as the Soviet Union.  The Russians were the definition of a well-oiled machine, driving through defenses and outskating offenses in the international level of play.  They even faced off against a few NHL teams of whom they made quick work of.  The games were billed as exhibitions, but you can print what you want on a ticket or program.  The fans and the players knew it was something more.  American and Canadian patrons alike walked away from the losses with a bad taste in their mouth.  Somebody’s got to beat these guys already. 

The USSR was heavily favored long before they hit the ice against the Yanks.  Do you think Herb Brooks cared about that?  No way in Hades.  The Americans fought tooth and nail, stick and skate against the scarlet giants, defeating them 4 – 3.  It was a game of grit and grace and it was without question, the greatest sports upset of all time.  Why?  It wasn’t just two rivals where the underdog came out on top.  It was a bunch of college kids defeating a roster of pros.  It was democracy defeating communism.  It was the good old U.S. of A. defeating the Soviet Union with jaw-dropping perseverance. 

What many people today fail to realize is that wasn’t even the gold medal game.  The Americans still had to face an admirable Finland team for the final piece of hardware.  After trailing the Finns two periods into the game, the United States dominated the third period to defeat their opponent 4 – 2. 

Honoring the team’s accomplishment and legacy is the movie Miracle, which, while not a new Blu-ray release, is certainly not one to overlook.  Coach Herb Brooks is masterfully played by Kurt Russell and the movie does well to relay the sense of urgency, challenge and victory in the brilliance of 1080p.  This timeless piece is a great inspiration with as much realism that can be pumped into it without actually reliving the event all over again.  From a dismal performance against Norway, to the mounting victories leading to gold, it will surely keep your attention glued to the screen as you watch this team come to life.

Jim CraigTheir victories were without question, a group effort.  Still, there’s that one player with a bit more uniqueness than his cohorts.  Each team fields multiple defensemen and multiple forwards each game.  However, just like a kicker in football or a pitcher in baseball, there’s that one guy out there who is off in his own little world.  He bears a burden that, while playing the same sport as his teammates, cannot always relate his dilemmas and mindset to those same guys.  In hockey, it’s the goalie.  On the 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey Team, that man was Jim Craig.  Shielded behind his white goalie mask tattooed with a shamrock, Craig made it his mission to keep the enemy from slipping the puck past him…and oh what a wonderful job he did.  Craig may not be history’s best goalie, but he pulled it all together when it counted most. 

I recently had the luxury of meeting the man behind the mask where I had the opportunity to ask him what he thought of the film Miracle.  “I loved it!” he exclaimed.  There you have it.  If it’s good enough for someone who actually lived it, then it’s undoubtedly good enough for you and me.  Check out Disney’s Miracle today on high definition Blu-ray!



For Jim Craig’s official website, please visit:  http://www.jimcraig.net/


For the official USA Hockey website, please visit:  http://www.usahockey.com/


Miracle Blu-ray Cover Art




1 Response to “It’s A Miracle…30 Years Later!”

  1. Brian White

    Great story Gregg!

    I need to check this film out one day. My earliest memories in life stem from circa 1982.

    We can all use a little positive energy in our lives!